Leap into Learning

Family Reading
An "extra day" for learning

By Carolyn James, Ph.D.

LeapFrog Literacy Expert

As the literacy development expert on LeapFrog’s Learning Team, Carolyn ensures that the curricular design in LeapFrog products is grounded in the latest educational research. Before joining LeapFrog, Carolyn was a reading professor at Sacramento State University, a curriculum developer for the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, and a teacher in the San Francisco bay area. She earned her doctorate in educational psychology at Michigan State University.

Leap into Something New

This leap day, spend some time digging into your child’s current interests and exploring what piques your child’s curiosity. Then, make a trip to the library and check out some books on the subject to enjoy together. Did you know that one of the biggest Jeopardy champions of all time, James Holzhauer, read nonfiction books from the children’s section of the library to prepare for the show? And there’s no one more helpful than a children’s librarian to help you find the right resources.

To spark new interests, check out these popular podcasts for kids:

But Why. In this show, kids ask questions such “Why do lions roar?” and the hosts find the answers. If your child has a question they haven’t addressed, you’re invited to record it with a smartphone and send it along to the hosts for consideration for a future broadcast. Episodes are about 15 minutes long.

Wow in the World. Hosted by NPR’s Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz, Wow in the World explores topics in the areas of science and technology in a way that’s entertaining to both kids and adults. Episodes are about 30 minutes long.

Leap into a Story

Listening to stories read aloud supports vocabulary development, builds awareness of story structure, fosters imagination and visualization, and helps children learn more about the world around them—all factors that positively influence reading comprehension down the road. In addition to reading aloud to your child yourself, take this leap day to mix things up a bit and enjoy these storytelling podcasts for kids:

Circle Round. This show, designed for kids four and up, includes folktales from around the world that feature famous voices such as Ed Asner and Margaret Cho. Each 10-20 minute episode ends with an activity meant to inspire further conversation between you and your child.

What If World. Host Eric O’Keefe tells fun, often zany, stories based on questions kids can leave on a voicemail at 205-605-WHAT. Listen in to hear madcap stories inspired by questions such as “What if unicorns turned to rocks when they’re shy” and encourage your child to submit his or her own question—maybe one about leap day!