The Dot: Printable Art Show Activity

On September 15th(ish) teachers, librarians, students, and families around the globe celebrate creativity, courage, and collaboration for International Dot Day. We can’t wait! The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds made our growth mindset list, but we also love that it’s also a great picture book to show our littles the creative process and how our values affect our perception.

To help you inspire creativity in kids who think they “can’t,” we created this set of 28 FREE printable gallery picture frames to fill with your unique dots. Print them out, add crayons or paint and some artists, then make a mark and see where it takes it you!

If you’d like to share it with us, we’d love to see your Dot Day creativity on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok.

Remember to read The Dot with your Novel Effect app by 9/16 to be entered to win books, a premium membership, and a $100 gift card for art supplies!

Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

Picture Books to Boost Self-Esteem & Confidence

Kids who know their strengths, understand their uniqueness, and embrace both, have the confidence to try new things. Self-esteem helps kids deal with mistakes and try again, even if they fail at first. They are more likely to try their best, and feel proud of what they can do. As a result, they do better at school, at home, and with friends.

As a parent, one of my goals is to give my children a safe space to be themselves. Whether it’s encouraging them to follow their own interests, supporting their desire to try things they aren’t good at yet, or teaching them to celebrate the ways they are unique, they will always know I love them unconditionally and exactly as they are.

It’s never too early, or too late, to help kids develop and improve how they see and value themselves. Here are our favorite books to offer opportunities to discuss the importance and power of confidence.

I Am Every Good Thing

Illustrations and easy-to-read text pay homage to the strength, character, and worth of a child.

I Am Enough

A gorgeous lyrical ode to self-confidence and kindness, for girls from every background and every color.

The Dot

An art teacher’s encouragement leads a young girl to change her mind about her abilities.

Hair Love

An ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters.

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Gerald is a giraffe that can’t dance until one night he finds his own special music.

How Much is a Little Girl Worth

This tenderhearted book teaches girls that they have immeasurable worth to face any challenge life puts in their path.

The Little Engine that Could

A treasured story of the blue locomotive who exemplifies the power of positive thinking.

Download the Novel Effect app for FREE to bring these  stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

Picture Books About Friendship, Kindness, & Belonging

Starting school is one of the biggest times in a child’s life to make new friends. Fostering a sense of belonging for our children and establishing the expectation that they will extend a sense of belonging to others is especially important at the beginning of a new year. 

Some children will confidently walk into their new classroom. For others, it is an overwhelming experience because of their shyness and fears. Friendships help all children develop trust, compassion, and a sense of belonging. 

Harmonious friendships take practice, explore these books about friendship to encourage children to share, cooperate, and see events from a different perspective.

The Day You Begin

A heartening book about finding courage to connect with others, even while feeling scared and alone

The Invisible Boy

This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.

Be Kind

A thoughtful picture book illustrating the power of small acts of kindness.

Stick and Stone

A delightful story about making and helping friends and sticking up for them.

Strictly No Elephants

A sweet story that captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet.

The Adventures of Frank and Mustard: Differently Awesome

A book that inspires readers to take pride in and accept the differences that make us each unique.

Horton Hears a Who

A tale of compassion and determination proves that any person, big or small, can choose to speak out for what is right.

Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

8 Books to Help Kids Understand Their Feelings

Books can be a great tool for connecting and empathizing with all kinds of different emotions.

Kids come with a wide range of emotions, some are more difficult to handle than others. Feelings like anger, frustration, loneliness, worry, sadness, grief, and fear can be uncomfortable, but learning to deal with them all is an essential part of growing up. 

It’s important for kids to be able to accept all their feelings, even the uncomfortable ones. We can talks with them about comfortable and uncomfortable feelings—rather than good or bad—to better equip them to accept any of the feelings that come with being human. 

Books can be a great tool for connecting and empathizing with all kinds of different emotions. As you read these stories talk about the feelings of the characters, ask questions, listen, and learn.

The Kissing Hand

When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him.

Grumpy Monkey

When Jim the chimpanzee can’t shake his bad mood one day, he discovers the danger in suppressing unexplained feelings.

The Color Monster

When Color Monster wakes up with his emotions all over the place, a little girl helps him gains self-awareness and peace by identifying each feeling through color.

The Feels

Join Yeti on a journey of self-discovery as she meets her feelings and learns how to take care of each one.

The Rabbit Listened

When Taylor’s block castle is destroyed, all the animals think they know just what to do, but only the rabbit quietly listens to how Taylor is feeling.

Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

Be a Storytime Hero in 2019

Happy New Year Novel Effect-ers!

new year-02

You made it through the holidays – the wonderful meals, the family fun, the late night festivities, and the seemingly non-stop gift giving.  And now it is time to kick off those new year’s resolutions! Continue reading “Be a Storytime Hero in 2019”

Happy Holidays, Novel Effect Educators!

As you are Fa-La-La-ing your way to…V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, we thought you might like to ease some of that countdown-to-holiday-break craziness with titles that explore different seasonal cultures and traditions. Good news, there’s a little elfish-luck in your corner, all the titles below are available in the Novel Effect app!

Continue reading “Happy Holidays, Novel Effect Educators!”

4 Literary Themed Holidays in April

The Month of April showers us with all the things for book lovers.! All month long, there are special celebrations and events that you and your little wordsmiths can enjoy together. Look for these celebrations locally to find shared experiences that will help build lasting memories and lasting love of reading for your family.


1. National Poetry Month

April is a month for poetry! We’ve celebrated at Novel Effect by adding free children’s poetry to the app, complete with the text, so you can enjoy some immersive poems right away. Additionally, if you’re looking for a fun poetry-related activity to do together, why not create your own black-out poetry using magazines or newspapers you have around the house?


2. National Library Week

April 8th-14th is National Library Week! Since 1958, this established event has been a big deal in the library world. It features micro-celebrations for everyone from school librarians to bookmobiles, with special activities for readers both big and small. The best way to celebrate is to support your local library – stop by and check a book out, attend a story time, and don’t forget to mention Novel Effect while you’re there. If you can’t make it in, little things like following/liking posts on their social media channels can go a long way to help their visibility in the community.


3. World Book Day, April 23rd

World Book Day is an UNESCO organized event celebrating all things related to reading, publishing, and copyright. First celebrated in 1995, the date April 23rd was chosen as it is the birth or death day for Cervantes, Shakespeare, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Vladimir Nabokov, and many other notable writers. April 23rd also happens to be St. George’s Day. In some cultures, books are given as a gift to a love interest St. George’s Day, not unlike the gift exchanges on Valentine’s Day here in the US, so feel free to pass along the gift of reading to someone you love on this day.


4. Independent Bookstore Day

Indie bookstores are community centers run by passionate book people. The last Saturday in April (this year, April 28th) is a day to celebrate these special places that make a neighborhood unique. Every store (and every Independent Bookstore Day party) is different, but it’s not uncommon to find authors, live music, kids events, art tables, contests, and fun exclusives that can’t be found anywhere else. Seattle bookstores have a passport program to encourage you to hit the wide variety of bookstores across the city. Novel Effect will be participating in several celebrations across the countries, so if you don’t see us, be sure to let the bookstore know that you would like to!


April is a big month for Novel Effect in another way – we were nominated for 2 Webby Awards! The Webbys, according to The New York Times, are the “internet’s highest honor.” As a nominee we have the possibility of winning the Webby chosen by the academy or the People’s Choice Webby, chosen by popular vote. We’d love your vote in each of the two categories where we were nominated:

Mobile Sites & Apps: Family & Kids:

Mobils Sites & Apps: Integrated Mobile Experience:

6 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Reading

How do we motivate our children to engage in reading experiences and understand the value of the written word? Some early readers struggle and get frustrated. Others find the many distractions more compelling (and instantly gratifying) than doing the work of reading.

How do we motivate our children to engage in reading experiences and understand the value of the written word? Some early readers struggle and get frustrated. Others find the many distractions more compelling (and instantly gratifying) than doing the work of reading.

Researchers have found that there are “two sides to reading”. Reading includes skills, such as vocabulary, comprehension, phonemic awareness and word recognition, but the other (more exciting) part is the “will” to read. This means the motivation to read and the desire to practice and get better at it!

What can you do to get your children motivated to keep reading and enjoy that oh so special, personal experience of sitting down with a good book? Research shows that literacy starts as early as six months, so engaging with children at even the earliest stages of life is key.

Here are six ways you can add reading-focused activities to your daly life to help foster the crucial “will” to read:

1. Expose children to a print-rich environment
Label things! All the things! Furniture, toys, food, pets (okay, maybe not pets) – anything a child might see or use.

2. Talk about the text in books
Ask children questions that focus on elements of print within the text. You can comment on the length or shape of the words. Ask where the words on the page are and point out features of the book like the author’s name, book title, or page numbers.

3. Pretend read
Kids love pretending and make believe, so tying that activity to reading is a great way to positively connect the two in the child’s mind. Encourage your child to “read” a story to their favorite stuffed animal (or that non-labeled pet.)

4. Make a book together
This is both an awesome craft project AND a literacy tool! Let your child dictate the story. You write the words and they make the pictures.

5. Write in front of your child
Engage in various writing activities in front of your child, whether its writing a letter, journaling, or balancing your checkbook. Say the words you’re writing aloud.

6. Read in front of your child
Read a variety of types of text in front of your child and talk about them. Stories on Novel Effect come with a multi-sensory experience, which can help provide context clues and keep everyone more engaged in what’s happening. Look for poems, a different type of text, on Novel Effect starting in April!

Keep the conversation going with some great information on motivating older readers from the good folks at PBS Kids.


Some of the ideas in this post were adapted from “Book Smart: How to Develop and Support Successful Motivated Readers” (2014) By Anne Cunningham and Jamie Zibulsky. Anne Cunningham is a literacy expert and teaches at the University of California, Berkley. She is also on the Board at Novel Effect. You can pick up a copy of her book here.