Who’s up for some horsing around?? Not literally, of course. We have some trivia about a horse because it’s oatmeal month! (Yes, literally, oatmeal month.) 

Read this Mid-week Reading Challenge (MWRC) with someone to put a little reading fun into the day! (New to the Mid-week Reading Challenge? Check it out!)

Or “Print and Pin” the OATMEAL MONTH graphic. Someone will notice. Someone will read it. And that could be the start of something great–if not this week, then next!

And as you think about oatmeal, think about filtering your tap water. Why is FILTERED WATER so important? Because our tap water is unhealthy and particularly damaging to children.

OK, here’s this week’s Mid-week Reading Challenge…

water oatmeal mercury lead Scotland horses English Aveeno beta glucans bacteria

Get a little reading fun eack week! Get next week’s MWRC delivered to your inbox.

Got a question about your child’s reading?  Check out the Ask Tara! freebie Q&A.

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It’s easy to take water for granted, but we shouldn’t. We need it, and we need it to be clean. But the sad fact is that we get toxic tap water from so many of the public water supplies around the world. And it is up to parents to make drinking water safe for their children.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE FLINT, MICHIGAN WATER CRISISdiscolored water Flint Michigan lead corrosion LeeAnne Walters

It’s been all over the news that families in Flint, MI were dealing with toxic water and had to fight to get their concerns addressed–concerns that were voiced by residents as early as the spring of 2014. Many months passed, and lots of finger pointing occurred before the toxic water supply was acknowledged by governmental officials.



In December of 2015, The Flint Water Advisory Task Force reviewed the response of the office responsible for public water safety. The task force declared that the “minimalist approach to regulatory and oversight responsibility is unacceptable and simply insufficient to the task of public protection.” 

Dan Wyant DEQ Department of Environmental Quality mistake officials


We all want to trust that we have responsible public officials. But if you want to protect your family, the only safe course of action is to become your own steward. Learn what is in our water supply, and take action to ensure that your children have safe drinking water.


In our modern lives, there are many things that end up in our water. In fact, all of these toxins are found in municipal water in varying levels:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Heavy Metals
  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
  • Plastics
  • Nitrates


That list of contaminants is bad enough. But it gets worse. Unbelievably, there are things we intentionally add into our drinking water–things that are known toxins!

  1. FLUORIDE: It is touted as preventing tooth decay, but it is actually a known “endocrine disruptor.” In fact, it is used in Europe to treat people who have overactive thyroids (HYPERthyroidism). So obviously, fluoride affects the thyroid gland. But it also affects your bones and your brain, and even the blood sugar levels of children!
  2. CHLORINE: It’s an inexpensive way to kill the microbes in the water supply–and has been the standard since 1904. Of course, the problem is that it doesn’t only kill the bad microbes. When we drink the chlorinated water, we kill the healthy bacteria in our gut as well. And that is a massive assault to the immune system.

Everyone is affected by these toxins in the water, but kids are particularly impacted. One reason is that because of their smaller size, kids have more concentrated levels when exposed. Another reason is that their developing bodies and organs are less effective at processing and eliminating toxins. The bottom line is that anything that affects a child’s overall health will unavoidably impact cognitive functioning as well. And while it may not be damaging enough to prevent a child from learning to read, it can diminish a child’s potential. (If you’re concerned, use this reading skills diagnostic for answers.)


There are things you can do! Follow these THREE STEPS to keep your kids’ drinking water safe for consumption:

  1. Filter your water at home. There are many options. Since this fall, we’ve been
    Berkey water filtration fluoride granite stainless steel

    using the Berkey water filtration system with the optional fluoride filters. I had wanted an under-the-counter system, but my research showed it didn’t remove as many toxins as the solid carbon block technology of the Berkey. So I got the Berkey, and we all love it! One other consideration: if you have a direct water line to your refrigerator, that will need filtering as well.



2.  Be mindful of your kids’ water consumption when they are not home.

  • Send filtered water to school each day with your child, especially if the building is not a new one.
  • Give your child filtered water for after-school activities.
  • When eating out, order bottled spring water–and make sure it comes from a glass bottle. (Those ubiquitous plastic bottles of water are not safe. During manufacturing, they are filled with HEATED water, and this causes plastic to leach into the water.)

3. Use glass or stainless steel bottles whenever you send your kids off with water. 

borosilicate glass water bottles pyrex nonslip silicone sleeve
Our 12 oz bottles–silicone sleeves wrapping the same glass as PYREX!

There are things in our drinking water that make it toxic to our bodies, and our children are especially affected. Some of these toxins just end up in the water supply, but some are intentionally added to our drinking water. The modern-day reality is that it is our job as parents to keep our children’s drinking water safe, and fortunately, there are things we can do to let them be happy and healthy readers.

What’s next on the blog? Water for bathing/personal use. Sign up to get it delivered right to your inbox.

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January is HOT TEA MONTH…perfect for MWRC HOT TEA TRIVIA! Find out how long it’s been around, how it was invented, and what panda “poo” has to do with it all!

(New to the Mid-week Reading Challenge? Check it out!)

And if you’re trying to get your tweens and teens to read more, put a little “pleasure” back into reading by sharing the “HOT TEA TRIVIA”  MWRC with them–any way you like!  #ShareSomeReading in some way to send a message that reading is enjoyable.  (Got a question about how to motivate your older child to read?  Check out the Ask Tara! freebie Q&A.)

And “Print and Pin” the HOT TEA TRIVIA graphic somewhere. The kids will notice. The kids will comment. And that could be the start of something great–if not this week, then next!

Get next week’s MWRC delivered to your inbox to keep the momentum!!

Ritz Carlton Hong Kong water filtration filters hot tea month China Chinese panda

Why is FILTERED WATER so important? Because it is an unfortunate modern day reality that our tap water is unhealthy and particularly damaging to children.

On Instagram? Follow me @NurturingLit


MWRC–New Year’s Eve Trivia

In this week’s Mid-week Reading Challenge , we take a look at some New Year’s Eve trivia! Where to be, what to do, and what NOT to do…it’s all here!

(New to the Mid-week Reading Challenge? Check it out!)

And if you’re trying to get your tweens and teens to read more, put a little “pleasure” back into reading by sharing the “New Year’s Eve Trivia”  MWRC with them–any way you like! You read it, they read it, you all read it to yourselves…it doesn’t matter. As long as you #ShareSomeReading in some way, it sends a message that reading is enjoyable. And that’s the seed of pleasure reading. (Got a question about how to motivate your older child to read?  Check out the Ask Tara! freebie Q&A.)

And “Print and Pin” the graphic somewhere. They’ll notice. They’ll comment. And that could be the start of something great!  Get next week’s MWRC delivered to your inbox to keep the momentum!!

car thefts Times Square ball drop New York City New Year's Eve Sydney Australia fireworks



This week’s Mid-week Reading Challenge is a roundup of surprising Christmas Lore! And it’s perfect to #ShareSomeReading with someone because it’s got movies (including the President-elect of the U.S.), music, classics, and even KFC–something to intrigue even the Grinches among us!

Looking for ways to entice your tweens and teens to read more?

Put a little “pleasure” back into reading by sharing the “Christmas Lore”  MWRC with them–any way you like! You read it, they read it, you all read it to yourselves…it doesn’t matter. As long as you #ShareSomeReading in some way, it sends a message that reading is enjoyable. And that’s the seed of pleasure reading. (Got a question about how to motivate your older child to read?  Check out the Ask Tara! freebie Q&A.)

Need to dip your toe in first? Simply print the graphic and stick it to the fridge. They’ll notice. They’ll comment. (Who can resist the lure of Christmas Lore?!) And you’ll soon be ready to dive in! Get next week’s MWRC delivered to your inbox to keep the momentum!

(New to the Mid-week Reading Challenge? Check it out!

Follow me @NurturingLit on Instagram.

Here’s this week’s topic:

Christmas KFC Japanese lore Trump U.S. president-elect Home Alone Mariah Carey Carol Charles Dickens

Follow me @NurturingLit on Instagram.

Got a question about how to motivate your child to read?  Check out the Ask Tara! freebie Q&A!


How To Use Wordless Books to Grow a Grateful Reader

wordless books preschoolers diapering Montessori achievementDo you know how to use wordless books with your preschooler to help them grow into grateful readers?

As a reading specialist, I was certainly aware of the power of wordless books for school-aged kids who were inching along as readers. But it was a diapering lesson (!) one day that helped me see that wordless books are perfect to give our youngest kids independence as readers. Here’s what happened…

Just before my daughter turned two years old, she began a Montessori-based child-care program. When I arrived to pick her up one afternoon, she happened to be in the middle of a diaper change. Imagine my surprise when the teacher said, “Bottoms up,” and my daughter lifted her bottom off the ground!

As a parent…

Why did this surprise me so much? At home, I had never thought of asking her to lift her bottom. In fact, we were still using the same old diapering routine from her newborn days: me doing all the work of lifting up her legs. This “bottoms up” diapering observation showed me she was able to do much more. But it was my job to figure out how to step back and let her take charge.

As a reading specialist…

While it was a true epiphany for me as a parent, it gave me lots to reflect on in my professional life as a reading specialist as well.

So, how can we fully support our young children’s literacy development? Certainly,  we read aloud to our children, and this is crucial. I cannot emphasize enough how essential it is that we read aloud to our children each and every day.

But is there anything else can we do??



As the diaper lesson taught me, we must find ways to let our kids be in charge of their own literacy development. So the question is: what is the perfect avenue for letting our young children take charge as readers?

Wordless books.

Why are wordless books perfect to help a child prepare himself as a reader? There are several reasons.

  1. THE PICTURES TELL THE STORY: Toddlers and preschoolers do not have the “print skills” to read words on a page. No problem! Full-page illustrations fill wordless books, and that puts your child in charge of the story. And thanks to all that reading aloud you’ve been doing together, your child understands the parts of a story (i.e. characters, setting, problem and solution) and can use these “story elements” to tell the story he sees in the illustrations.
  2. WORDLESS BOOKS ALLOW INDEPENDENCE THAT BUILDS MOTIVATION: Wordless books give a child independence as a reader. Rather than needing you to read to him, he can enjoy a story whenever the mood strikes. When a child has such “autonomy,” he has the building blocks of intrinsic motivation. And if you want a life-long reader, it is intrinsic motivation that makes the difference.
  3. WORDLESS BOOKS DEMONSTRATE THAT READING IS ABOUT MAKING MEANING: As young children read wordless books,  they develop an understand that reading is about making meaning (not simply “saying words”). This is a tremendous help when they begin formal reading instruction. Early on, reading instruction emphasizes how to “crack the code.” Many kids end up thinking that reading is all about “sounding out the words,” and this can lead to comprehension problems later.
  4. WORDLESS BOOKS ALLOW YOUNG CHILDREN TO BE ACTIVE READERS: Wordless books let preschoolers get “active” as readers (rather than always being passive readers as they listen to a read aloud).  Being an active reader is critical for successful comprehension.

When it comes to letting your preschooler take charge as a reader, nothing beats the power of wordless books! And if you’re like most parents, you’ll treasure the experience of your young child reading to you…well beyond those diapering days!

Want to know the “TOP 5” wordless books for your preschooler? Click here.

Got older kids? Check out the Mid-Week Reading Challenge infographics…timely trivia to entice your tweens and teens!

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Forget the Feast, FORTIFY on the Family Narrative

Thanksgiving feast fortify happy family story resilience video ideas bruce feilerAs you get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday (if you’re in the US!), there’s one key ingredient you need to truly fortify your family. But we’re not talking about yet another “superfood.” We’re talking about storytelling, the kind that develops what researchers call a “strong family narrative.” And it’s just what your kids need.

Why is the “family narrative” so fortifying?

The family narrative helps build resilient kids. When they hear the challenges and triumphs of their family’s life–what researchers call the “oscillating family narrative”–children come to view adversity as something that happens in families and can be overcome. Children develop a strong “intergenerational self” and know they are part of something bigger than themselves. All of this builds resiliency in kids.

As Bruce Feiler, author of “The Secrets of Happy Families” explains, “When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.”

Why is November a perfect time for building the family narrative?

In America, Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest travel holidays during the year. Many are traveling to be with their families. In fact, last year a presidential proclamation was issued declaring the week of Thanksgiving as “National Family Week.” When families are gathered together, there’s a natural opportunity for sharing the family’s stories.

What to do

The main thing to do is to start talking. Tell all kinds of family stories. Include some “oscillating family narratives,” the ones that show the ups and downs of life, and how the family has stuck together through it all.

How to build in Literacy

With all the storytelling, it seems to beg the idea of recording it to make it permanent. While video is a wonderful option, don’t overlook the opportunity to write these stories down! Family stories are perfect for reading and rereading each holiday season. Kids love this!

This Thanksgiving, add the family narrative to the menu. It is THE superfood to help you fortify your family in a truly lasting way.


Need to put some “pleasure” back into reading for your tweens and teens? #ShareSomeReading! Here’s some curious THANKSGIVING TRIVIA you can devour together!

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