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Image from Mel Fell

Beyond the Book is a literacy program centered on developing readers in kindergarten through third grade. By highlighting vibrant stories on a seasonal basis that represent the wonders of children's literature, Beyond the Book aims to inspire children and families to discover the many resources the library offers.

Join the Beyond the Book Club

Children in kindergarten through third grade across the District are invited to sign up for Beyond the Book. Your membership includes:

Author Carla Hall presents in front of a light blue screen bearing the Beyond the Book logo to a group of approximately 20 children, most of whom are raising their hands.
  • A Beyond the Book Club membership card
  • A quarterly newsletter with tips and tricks for developing readers
  • A free copy of the seasonal Featured Book and/or Activity Packet (While supplies last)
  • Exclusive invites to author talks and other fun family events
  • BONUS: Does your family have a library card? If not, caregivers can get a DC Public Library card when their child signs up for Beyond the Book!

Sign up today!

To register, visit your neighborhood library, or use the online registration form then stop by your neighborhood library to pick up your membership card.

Sign Up For Beyond the Book

Summer 2023 | Mel Fell

About this season's book

Book Cover of Mel Fell by Corey Tabor

Sometimes it takes a little bit of failure before you succeed. In Mel Fell we learn about a brave kingfisher that learns to fly her own way. She is supported in her journey by the encouragement of family and friends.

Mel was brave and resilient in her challenge to learn to fly. This unique book allows children to be active readers as they turn the book sideways and upside down to follow Mel on her journey of triumph. Encourage the people in your life to try new things that seem hard and perhaps out of reach. Embrace a summer of adventure as Mel did on her journey of learning to fly. 

Check Out a Copy of Mel Fell at your Neighborhood Library

This season's activity book

Cover of the Mel Fell Activity Book

Go Beyond the Book to build on your experience of reading Mel Fell with fun learning activities! This delightful read explores everyone's ability to be courageous and take a chance while trusting in yourself and your abilities. This activity guide helps children explore their imagination, think about times they have been brave and learn more about kingfishers like Mel!

Sign up for Beyond the Book at your neighborhood library to receive your very own activity book! If you complete the activity book, please send a picture of your favorite activity to or tag us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using the hashtag #BeyondTheBookDC.

Supporting Your Developing Reader

What is a developing reader?

A Developing Reader is someone that is learning how to use foundational reading skills and their background knowledge to understand text. A developing reader is interested in books but can’t yet read them independently or may be able to read some words but require support to convey meaning from print. Developing readers tend to be between the ages of children 5-8 that are starting their educational journey.

Developing Readers enjoy a variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction. As they gain more foundational reading skills such as the mastery of phonics and word comprehension they increasingly read books with more complex text and vocabulary words. Most excitingly, is that developing readers begin to discover that reading happens everywhere. 


How do children learn to read?

Two young children happily hold up picture books while the grown up with them smiles behind them.

There are five key important categories that are important to be successful readers. These categories are not listed in a particular order.



Fluent readers have mastered the multitasking skills of a reader’s ability to decode words and comprehend them at the same time. Fluent readers read smoothly and with expression. Read aloud to your child and listen to them read aloud. Discuss with them what a reader sounds like. Reading familiar text will help your child build their confidence as a reader and their fluency skills.


Reading Motivation

Make reading personal for your child. Children should love the things that they are reading. The more they enjoy the topic of books, the more they will want to read. Keep your child’s interest at the forefront of the reading process. Allow them to explore and pick books that appeal to their interests.



Comprehension is all about your child’s ability to understand what they are reading. It is the ability for the child to make connections with the story to their own life, make predictions, explain the story, and so much more. A developing reader’s comprehension skills can be strengthened by making observations about illustrations and discussions around the story’s plot. Repetition also makes a big difference, so make sure you reread stories and make observations about the illustrations. Have a conversation with your child about what they are reading.


A boy reads a graphic novel sitting stretched out in a circular tunnel cutout in a library bookcase.


Words are made of letters and those letters make sounds. Combined sounds make words that possess meaning. Decoding is what happens when readers put sounds together to figure out words. Practice sounding out words with your child and practicing common sound patterns they often hear. As their decoding skills grow, they will learn more about how to sound out larger words and identify more complex sound patterns such as vowel sounds and consonant blends.


Background Knowledge

This is all about what a child knows before they open the book. What is in their immediate environment that gives them access to the information presented in the text? You can build upon your child’s knowledge by teaching them new vocabulary words and introducing them to new experiences.

Developing reader tips

Three elementary aged children and an adult gather around an open picture book, with bookshelves in the background.

Developing readers have to do a lot of work as readers. This is the beginning of their journey where they will start to read not only for enjoyment but also for performance. It is important to

keep it fun while encouraging them to learn new reading skills.

Start with what the child knows and likes. Read about things that are of interest or bring joy, like sports, the arts and other activities. Think about all of the things you’ve done to help your child to enjoy the practice of reading. Keep doing those things and elevate your practice by supporting their book selections, and discussing how reading relates to life activities and experiences.

  • Pause when you are reading together and ask them questions about the story or think your thoughts out loud so they can see how you make meaning from the stories you read.
  • If your child knows the alphabet song, start to sing the song with the letter sounds versus the letter names.
  • Expand the alphabet song by finding names of things they love that match the sound or sound pattern. This can be done as you’re walking around your neighborhood.

When you are at the library, look for easy readers, speakerbooks, picture books and books of poetry. These are great kinds of books for your developing reader. Check out DC Public Library's recommended reads and resources for kids to find titles for readers of all levels!

About Beyond the Book

Beyond the Book is a literacy program centered on developing readers, children in kindergarten through third grade. By highlighting vibrant stories that represent the wonders of children's literature, Beyond the Book aims to inspire children and families to discover the many resources the library offers. DC Public Library is uniquely positioned in young readers' communities to spark their curiosity and encourage reading for fun as well as show caregivers how they are empowered to help their child grow into a confident reader. When children find the joy in reading in a supportive environment, they are better able to build the reading and learning skills they need to thrive. 

This seasonal program builds on the Books from Birth program, an initiative with Imagination Library that mails a new book each month to children in DC from birth to age 5. Beyond the Book, generously funded by the DC Public Library Foundation, is a city-wide reading and learning club that engages Books from Birth graduates as well as developing readers across DC around a carefully selected title along with fun and educational learning activities that will deepen their understanding and enjoyment of the book as well as build their reading skills. 

Audiences: Kids
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