Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beginning readers - bookwraps to help

Do you have a little one in your family that is just on the cusp of reading?  It is a very important milestone in his life, so how you approach it can make a lifelong difference in his attitude towards reading.  Always make book sharing and reading aloud to each other a priority.  Anytime and anyplace is always the best choice.  

Curling up with a good book together with your child on your lap or snuggled close in beside you gives him a feeling of security and of this being a special time indeed.  The love of reading flows as you engage in the book and the words flow between minds and hearts. This is a time that the adult in his life has put aside his/her very busy scheduled life and has chosen to spend quality time with an excellent book and that wonderful little person in his life.  

These sessions should never be long or dragged out.  Make them times of anticipation and just plain fun.  When your budding reader is reading out loud and gets stuck on an unfamiliar word please don't have him sit there and try to sound it out over and over again.  That can cause anxiety and frustration and a lack of self-confidence in his ability to read.  Instead just gently give him the word and keep the flow of language and the ideas of the story going.  So many times parents get hung up on this aspect and it is a losing tactic. 

 Reading time together should be a stress-free, let's-read-another book-together-time.   I have compiled a list of books that are perfect for kids to enjoy and feel successful when conquering that printed word set before them.  


Ball. This is one word book. Now you may be asking yourself what is the purpose of reading books with only one word. One word: Confidence.  It’s comic book-type layout gives a sense of accomplishment. Learning to read is not just about decoding letters and sentences. The word, “ball” is used to express emotion, convey action and reveal character. By reading this book, kids synthesize text, story, illustration and understand that words convey pathos, climax, and dénouement. This is crucial for reading comprehension.

Hug. A baby gorilla is searching for his mom, using a single word, “hug”. Like Ball (see above) the single word is important, and even a single word can convey dramatic structure and emotions. The more beginning readers can feel connected with a story, they more likely they are to read it. Also included are the words, “Bobo” and “Mommy.”

Orange Pear Apple Bear. Like Ball and Hug, this isn’t necessarily meant as an easy reader, but you can use it as such. Emily Gravett is a favorite author and this book uses the same 4 words in different sequences until the end, when a 5th word, “There!” is used. Kids can use the illustrations to decode words they don't recognize (orange, pear) because they have to pay attention to read them in the correct order on each page. The book is just plain funny and clever.

The Flip-a-Word books are not so much story books but an exercise in recognizing word family patterns. Each book includes three word families. For example Quack Shack, looks at -ack, -ick, and -ock words. As kids flip the pages, they see the same pattern revealed in a page cut out. At the end of each section the words are reinforced through simple phrases. Some of the pairings are a little silly, which kids will love I'm sure.

Up, Tall and High is another book with a very limited vocabulary. The book consists of three stories in which birds humorously contemplate three states of being (three guesses!). Fold out pages add extra interest and this book is also great for reading aloud to toddlers and preschoolers. Another good source is using Ethan Long’s Clara and Clem books from Penguin’s Young Reader series.

Cat the Cat, Who Is That? I love this series from Mo Willems. There is something so charming about the repetition. Only Willems can make a story so simple (saying hi to a slew of animals with names like “Duck the duck” and “Fish the fish”) yet still bring a smile.


See Me Run. Meisel has two “I Like to Read” about dogs going about their doggy business. Very simple words and lots of repetition made this a good choice. There is action, a bit of suspense (what will the dogs dig up?) and a lot of humor that keeps kids interested. 

More so than most publishers, I find Harper-Collins’ “I Can Read” books at the “Shared My First Reading” level, the most reliable source of appropriately leveled books for emerging readers. They have great repetition and words that kids can actually sound out. After a few attempts at sounding out please just give your child the word. 

Elephant & Piggie. These books are so popular I hardly need go over any plot points with you. Most parents I talk to started out reading Willems books about Gerald the Elephant and Piggie aloud to their preschoolers, but they are actually written to be easy readers.  I like that the books are longer than other typical earlier readers, although the text is nice and sparse so pages go quickly. Once your kid is hooked on Elephant and Piggie there are at least 20 more to keep him reading.

Mittens series. Mittens is the feline equivalent of Biscuit (see above). Each book has a bit of a mystery: where is Max? what’s that noise, etc. that encourages kids to keep reading and brings a smile to their faces when they come to the answer or can predict ahead of time what it is. There are a few longer words that they may need help with like “scratching” but since the mystery keeps them going, they won't get frustrated.


What Will Fat Cat Sit On?  These books are absolutely hilarious for read aloud storytime, but their simple, rhyming text made them terrific early reader books, too. Plus, they are super duper funny!
Do you have an emerging reader? What books do you find useful?

I truly hope that this has helped you with your new emerging bookworm.  It is very important that a child not only acquire the skill of reading but also the love of reading.  There are tons of fabulous books to chose from and always remember lean towards what your child is interested in while determining which book to get.  May your day be filled with interesting, adventurous, fun words that are packed between the covers of a great storybook. 

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