Mo Reading Fun

When it comes to having Rock Star status in the library, Mo Willems is at the top of the charts. This spring when all the library books came back for a summer vacation rest, we were surprised to see exactly how many copies of his books we actually have. Why? They are always checked out. I could have 50 copies of his books and still not have enough to keep readers happy.

So when I heard about the Mo Willems book and plush character sale at Kohl’s stores, there was no question what I would be doing at 8am on a Saturday morning! Now I have what I need to make four more Backpack Buddies for the library! I also bought a couple extras to take with me to South Africa this summer. We are all set to have some Mo reading Fun!

If you would to learn more about the Backpack Buddies we have in the library, check out this post.

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Backpack Buddy Tribute to Golden Acorn Recipients

Our PTSA honors amazing volunteers each year with the Golden Acorn Award. The recipients are chosen for their excellence in service to the school community. They are dedicated to making our school a better place for all of the students.

This year’s winners are Cynthia Lydum, Dara Schaffer and Celinda Hoover. As a tribute, we now have added three new Backpack Buddies to our collection. These interactive reading backpacks are ready for checkout for our primary age students.

Backpack Buddy “Ballet Cat” for 2017 Golden Acorn winner Celinda Hoover

Backpack Buddy “The Kissing Hand” for 2017 Golden Acorn winner Dara Schaffer

Backpack Buddy “Pete the Cat” for 2017 Golden Acorn winner Cynthia Lydum

I have been creating backpack buddies for many years, but recently started the program at my present school in the fall of 2016. Each backpack has a hand puppet or a stuffed animal and a matching book. The idea is for children to practice reading in a fun manner. I got the idea after working with my former Reading with Rover therapy dog. Students sat down and read to him. The format takes away the stress of reading because nobody is correcting the child if they say a word correctly or read slowly.

Megan and Reese

In the Reading with Rover program, children with reading difficulties actually read stories to a dog and the logs love to listen. a child that may be hesitant to read aloud to his peers is typically less stressed when reading to a dog and the dog never judges the child’s reading ability. Click this link to learn  more about the local Reading with Rover program. There are local events at the Crossroaads Community Center in Bellevue and at the KCLS Sammamish Library in Sammamish.

Since we can’t have therapy dogs on campus, Backpack Buddies are the next best solution. The stuffed animal or puppet is used as the listener and the child reads with a quiet and very attentive audience.

Example of a backpack buddy coming soon to the library!

We now have about a dozen backpack buddies with more to come this spring. Due to the limited numbers of backpacks, only students in grades 1 and 2 are able to check out backpack buddies at this time.

If you would like to create your own Backpack Buddies, I have found the clear, large take home backpacks from Lakeshore Learning to last the longest. I love the flush puppets and book character dolls from Folkmanis and MerryMakers. You can often find the same items in local quality toy and book stores.

I also try to have an assortment of fiction and non-fiction topics that appeal to primary aged boys and girls. The kids can practice reading non-fiction and using text features without knowing they are doing valuable homework.

If you have any other questions, please leave me a comment and I will try to answer your questions.

Happy Reading,



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Utah’s Gone to the Dogs

Look out Utah!

This afternoon the Hembree’s will be in your state on a little driving vacation to some of the national parks in the area. Last year we traveled to California with Pete the Cat. Soon after he moved to Australia and become a permanent Aussie!

pete goldenc

The year before, Pigeon went with me to Massachusetts to visit my family. Here is a link to that post and a movie I made about our trip.

pigeon bb

So, who is coming along this year? It was a big decision because I had lots of fun choices in the library. When I was thinking about the possibilities, I realized we hadn’t traveled with a dog yet. How can that be? The owner of two dogs hadn’t traveled with a doggie friend on vacation? That’s when I made my decision. The dog from my favorite book when I was a little girl would be our guest! I hope he can handle the heat because it’s going to be pretty hot!

 go dog go

So, look for some upcoming posts about our trip! We will be going to Zion National Park, Bryce National Park and the Grand Canyon. We are also going to a place called Antelope Canyon. Do you know where that is?

Why is it named antelope canyon? What state will we be in at Antelope Canyon? Leave me a comment and let me know what you find out! And don’t forget to keep reading! I have books with me too!

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree


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Flora the Flamingo Backpack Buddy

We have three new backpack buddies to add to our collection! Two titles are very familiar – Go Dog Go and Knufflebunny.

We also have a new title – Flora the Flamingo

In this wordless picture book  a friendship develops between a girl named Flora and a graceful flamingo, as they learn to dance together.   Check out the book trailer about this very fun new book!

Flora the Flamingo Book Trailer


We now have 48 backpack buddies to choose from. Each one has a backpack, a book, matching puppet and a journal. Backpack buddies are available for check out in grades 1-3.


What is your favorite backpack buddy?

What book (fiction or non-fiction) would you suggest?


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