About Webbing Into Literacy (WIL)

A Rhyme a Week: Nursery Rhymes for Early Literacy

A Book a Week: Classroom Instruction

Alphabet Books

Supporting Families' Literacy Adventures

101 Best Books: The Head Start Home-School Library

Head Start Guide to Successful Transitions to Kindergarten

 If you have any questions, direct them to Laura Smolkin

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Webbing into Literacy (WIL) is a downloadable program designed to provide rural Head Start teachers with materials and instruction that will launch America's young children on successful academic careers. WIL began as a component in a "best practices" study conducted by Dr. Laura B. Smolkin, Principal Investigator in CIERA, the national Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement.

The web of Webbing into Literacy carries 3 distinct but related meanings. First, of course, web refers to the World Wide Web without which we would be unable to reach or offer this program to so many Head Start teachers across the United States. Second, as you can see when you first come to the WIL home page, web calls to mind Miss Muffett and her spider, reinforcing the important role that nursery rhymes play in the WIL program. Third, and perhaps most important, we at WIL are committed to weaving a web. We have come to recognize that children's eventual school success cannot be attributed to one single factor. Instead, there are many fine threads that, when woven together, provide the support children need. Threads that are important to us at WIL are caring teachers, strong instruction, involved and active families, and researchers who look and listen carefully.

Working with Head Start teachers at one of New Mexico's Rio Grande Pueblos, we have desiged a multifaceted program that addresses in-class instruction, home-school connections, and, with our University of New Mexico colleague, Dr. Joseph H. Suina, transition support for Head Start children entering kindergarten.

WIL, stressing a developmentally appropriate, balanced approach to literacy instruction, provides teachers with guidance and suggestions for literacy development both in the classroom and at home.

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If you do not have Adobe Acrobat 4.0, you will need to download it to open and use these PDF files.

101 Best Books for Children - a list (a pdf file)

About the 101 Best Books

Take Home Materials and Books

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ABOUT The WIL 101 Best Book List

After looking at our list, many of you will be wondering, "But, where is Curious George?" Or, "How could you leave out Make Way for Ducklings?" The 101 Best Books have been selected for a home-school library, meaning they are to be used in class and sent home to be read as well. Our CIERA research with low-income families suggests that many of these "best books", much celebrated by the field of children's literature, are seen as "too long" or "too difficult" by Head Start some adult readers. Whether these comments are an indication of the challengingly high readability of many Caldecott winners or whether they reflect families' and children's developmental levels in read-aloud experiences, we do accept the reality of these responses.

So, in selecting the 101 Best Book list, we have considered readability and length as important factors. Another key factor for us has been cost. Simply put, America's Head Start classrooms are not flush with funding. Recognizing that book clubs frequently offer prices far below retailers, we have taken advantage, whenever possible, of the considerable selection and excellent pricing from Scholastic Books. Scholastic's strong discounts on individual titles bring most books under $3.00; this allows us to create a 101 book library that costs around $300.

We at WIL recognize that reading a range of genres to young children is critical to their ultimate success in school. Though Scholastic offers many excellent choices, certain books on our list must be purchased from other sources. No preschool library, for example, would be complete without that most exemplary alphabet book Dr. Suess's ABC or the delightful predictable book Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Similarly, our desire to include quality informational texts has also compelled us to look beyond Scholastic's offerings. Our book list indicates which books are available from Scholastic and which books must be ordered elsewhere.

Each month, four books from the library are featured in the Book-A-Week classroom instruction.

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Materials you can download are:

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat 4.0, you will need to download it to open and use these PDF files.

Our Take Home Reading Program begins by sending 2 folders home with each child's first book packet. One folder is My Very Own Nursery Rhyme Collection; the other is My Very Own Reading Log.

Each of WIL's 101 best books has an associated nursery rhyme and activity card; most of these are linked thematically. At our WIL experimental site, we placed 20 copies of the rhyme in an envelope and 20 copies of the activity card in another envelope. On each envelope we had a label that said, "take one only." We put the book, the two envelopes, and a zip-loc baggy containing our paste-in pictures for the My Very Own Reading Log in a 2 gallon zip-loc bag.

The nursery rhyme cards, which we hole-punched, are added by families and children to the child's My Very Own Nursery Rhyme Collection, a folder that remains at the child's home.

The activity cards include helpful hints for families and follow-up activities designed to encourage re-reading and/or discussion of the books. The paste-in pictures, soon to be available here on our WIL site, serve to visually remind children of the book's they've listened to.

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Supporting Families' Literacy Adventures

For many families, reading books is something new. To support families who ask our advice, to extend literacy adventures into the home, and to strengthen young children's learning opportunities, we are designing a game-like activity for each of the 101 Best Books.

Our activity cards provide something for families and children to do together after they have finished reading a book. Clicking on the title will link you to the downloadable activity card. Clicking on the nursery rhyme will link you to the downloadable nursery rhyme that we think should go home with this book.

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat 4.0, you must download it to open and use our PDF files.


Suggested Books and Activities for October
Suggested Books and Activities for November
Suggested Books and Activities for December & January
Suggested Books and Activities for February

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October Books:

Activity Card Link
Suggested Rhyme

Apples and Pumpkins

"Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater"

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

"Green cheese, yellow laces"

Can't You Sleep Little Bear?

"Wee Willie Winkie"

Clap Your Hands

"This is the way the ladies ride"

Don't Forget The Bacon 

"To market, to market"

Dr. Seuss ABC

"Great A, Little A"

Froggy Goes To School

"Mary had a little lamb"

Harold and the Purple Crayon

"I asked my mother for 15 cents"

I Know an Old Lady

"Molly, my sister, and I fell out"

I Like Books

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall"

Leo the Late Bloomer 

"Elsie Marley is grown so fine"

Noisy Nora

"Crosspatch, draw the latch"

On The Go

"Ride a horse to Banbury Cross"

One Monday Morning 

"The Queen of Hearts"

Pancakes for Breakfast

"Pease porridge hot"

Pancakes, Pancakes 

"Polly put the kettle on"

Read To Your Bunny 

"Tickly, tickly, on your knee"

Rosie's Walk

"Chuck, chuck, chuck, chuck"

Ten Black Dots

"One, two, buckle my shoe"

Today is Monday 

"Wash the dishes, wipe the dishes"

Where the Wild Things Are

"Little Tommy Tucker"

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November Books:

Activity Card Link
Suggested Rhyme

Animal Parade

"Dickery, Dickery Dare"

Bread, Bread, Bread

"Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake"

Caps for Sale

"Bat, Bat"

Charlie Needs a Cloak

"The North Wind Doth Blow"

Corn On and Off the Cob

"Little Boy Blue"

Dinner at the Panda Palace

"Betty Botter"

Eating Fractions

"An Apple Pie When It Looks Nice"

Feast for Ten

"Jack Sprat"

Fiddle I Fee

"There Once Were 2 Cats of Kilkenny"

Fish Eyes

"One, two, three, four"

Freight Train

"Here We Go Round"

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

"There Was an Owl"

It's Thanksgiving

"Flour of England"

My Crayons Talk

"Mary, Mary Quite Contrary"

Pumpkin, Pumpkin

"Purple, Yellow, Red, and Green"

Silly Sally

"Simple Simon Went A-Fishing"

The Cow That Went Oink

"Hey, Diddle Diddle"

The Little Red Hen

"Hickety Pickety My Black Hen"

The Relatives Came

"Diddle, Diddle, Dumpling"

When This Box is Full

"Old Mother Hubbard"

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 December/January Books:

Activity Card Link
Suggested Rhyme

Animals in Winter

"A-Hunting We Will Go"

Changes, Changes

"Ring Around a Rosey"

Cookie's Week

"They That Wash"

Froggy Gets Dressed

"Cobbler, Cobbler, Mend My Shoe"

Good Night Gorilla

"Star Light, Star Bright"

Happy Birthday,Martin Luther King

"If Wishes Were Horses"

Houses and Homes

"Ladybug, Ladybug"

I Can't Said the Ant

"Higglety Pigglety Pop"

It Begins with an A

"Hick-A-More, Hack-A-More"

Jake Baked the Cake

"Baby and I Were Baked in a Pie"

My First Kwanzaa Book

"Little Nancy Etticoat"

Ten Nine Eight

"Rock-a-bye Baby"

The Doorbell Rang

"Alas! Alas! For Miss McKay"

The Gingerbread Man

"Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son"

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow

"Bobby Shaftoe's Gone to Sea"

The Little Mouse ... and the Big Hungry Bear

"Hickory Dickory Dock"

The Mitten

"Lucky Locket"

The Night Before Christmas

"Christmas is Coming"

The Three Little Pigs

"Barber, Barber, Shave a Pig"

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February Books:

Activity Card Link
Suggested Rhyme

Across the Stream

"I Saw a Ship A-Sailing"

Animals A to Z

"The Lion and the Unicorn"

Bear Shadow

"Simple Simon Met a Pieman"

Bread and Jam for Frances

"Handy Spandy"

Chicken Soup With Rice


Eating the Alphabet

"Up in the Green Orchard"

Happy Birthday, Moon

"The Man in the Moon"

Have You Seen My Duckling?

"Little Bo-Peep"

How Kittens Grow

"Diddlety Diddlety Dumpty"


"Little Jack Horner"

Lion Dancer

"Old King Cole"

Miss Nelson is Missing

"A Diller, A Dollar"

The ABC Bunny

"Hippity Hop to the Barber Shop"

The Day the Goose Got Loose

"Cackle Cackle Mother Goose"

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

"If All the World Were Paper"

The Snowy Day

"Dr. Foster Went to Gloucester"

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

"Donkey, Donkey, Old and Gray"

The Three Little Javelinas

"This Little Piggie Went to Market"

Tikki Tikki Tembo

"Hiccup, Hiccup, Go Away"

What Will the Weather Be Like Today?

One Misty, Moisty Morning"

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Because our approach at WIL to literacy instruction has its emphasis on children's developing awareness, we do not directly "teach" the alphabet but instead provide many opportunities to encounter the letters, their names, and their sounds.

To support children's alphabet learning, WIL features one new take-home alphabet book each month. These are to be used first at school. We ask teachers to change their classroom alphabet displays on a monthly basis using the pictures we supply. And, we suggest, after teachers have discussed the new alphabet with children, that they tape the cards below the classroom chalkboard so the pictures are at these young children's eye level.

After their month of serving as the classroom alphabet, the alphabet books are meant to be sent home for families to read together. You can consider the books as additions to the Take Home Reading Program. Research has shown that repeated readings of alphabet books aid children in alphabet knowledge and recognition.

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat 4.0, you must download it to open and use our PDF files.



Starting Head Start: A First Alphabet Book


A Halloween Alphabet


A Thanksgiving Alphabet

For those who've asked, Wampanoag are the native peoples who participated in the Pilgrim's first thanksgiving. 


A Winter Holiday Alphabet

Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday celebrated during the winter season. Hanukkah, variously spelled Hanukah or Chanukah, is a Jewish holiday that also falls at this time.


A Winter Alphabet


A February HolidayAlphabet

February is African American history month. You may want to refer to the lessons for Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King as well as The Snowy Day. Both of these can be found in the A-Book-A-Week instruction. You can learn more at the African-American Mosaic at the Library of Congress.

Ground Hog Day, February 2, is often interesting for children. You and your children can look at Phil's long history at the Official Groundhog Site.


A TransportationAlphabet


A Springtime Alphabet

It is our policy at WIL to recognize and honor America's wonderful diversity through the pictures we select. Please let us know if we have inadvertantly included pictures you cannot use in your particular cultural setting.

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