Thursday, May 31, 2007

Easy Readers - One Size Does Not Fit All

Most libraries have a collection of books written specifically for beginning readers. They can vary in range from simple one word to a page titles to books with more sophisticated text and chapters. Often they are called "I Can Read" books or "Easy" readers. Easy readers are designed for new readers to read on their own and have a controlled vocabulary. These books are usually appropriate for children in kindergarten through second grade. They should not be confused with picture books which, even though many are easy, do not have a controlled vocabulary and thus may have words too difficult for independent reading. Picture books are intended to be read to a child though many older children enjoy them on their own. The pictures are an essential part of the story. In easy readers the pictures are meant to provide clues to the words.

Many publishers assign levels to their early readers. However, these levels can vary from publisher to publisher so it is important to look at each book to see if it is suitable for your child. For example, although they are listed as Level One books, Pizza for Sam by Mary Labatt and T-Rex Is Missing by Tomie DePaola have more text and dialogue than those in the first group of titles listed below. You know best what will work for your child. Although you want your new reader to be challenged, do not choose anything too difficult or your child will become frustrated. Often choosing an easier book along with a more difficult title will help. Successfully reading easier titles will build self-confidence. The more your child reads, the more proficient your child will become at reading. Your child will read more if it is an enjoyable experience. (My focus as a librarian is to encourage children to read for pleasure so that they will become lifelong readers!)

Books for a child just starting to read should have a simple sentence structure and a great deal of repetition such as:

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin: Biscuit Finds a Friend - Biscuit the puppy makes friends with a duckling who has wandered from his pond.

Coxe, Molly: Cat Traps - A cat looking for a snack sets some traps without success until its owner comes home.

Leonard, Marcia: I Like Mess - A little girl loves to make a mess but cleans it up for her parents only to make another one.

McPhail, David: Big Pig and Little Pig - Big Pig and Little Pig each build a pool but in very different ways.

Meister, Carl: When Tiny Was Tiny - Tiny's owner talks about what Tiny did when he was actually a tiny puppy.

Milgrim, David: See Pip Point - Otto the robot shares his balloon with Pip the mouse with unexpected consequences.

Books for those who have been reading for some time will not only have more words and sentences but also a more extensive plot. Some are divided into chapters.

Dewey, Ariane: Splash! - Two bears cause chaos while fishing at the river.

Marshall, Edward: Fox on Wheels - Fox has adventures babysitting, tree climbing and grocery shopping.

Minarik, Else Holmelund: A Kiss for Little Bear - Grandmother's kiss travels an unusual route until it finally makes its way to Little Bear.

Stadler, John: The Adventures of Snail at School - Snail runs errands for his teacher who has difficulty believing what makes him take so long.

Tidd, Louise Vitellaro: The Best Pet Yet - Jay goes to the pet store with his parents to choose the perfect pet.

Wiseman, B.: Morris the Moose - Morris tries to convince a cow she is a moose like him.

Books for children comfortable reading on their own will usually be divided into chapters, have more sophisticated wordplay and more complex plots.

Hoban, Julia: Buzby - Buzby's first job turns out to be a disaster but he manages to find one that suits him best.

Jensen, Patsy: Loose-Tooth Luke - Luke's friends suggest ways for him to loose his first tooth.

Krensky, Stephen: Lionel at Large - Lionel deals with vegetables, shots, snakes, and sleepovers.

Little, Jean: Emma's Yucky Brother - Emma learns about being a big sister when her family adopts Max.

McCully, Emily Arnold: Grandmas at Bat - Pip's grandmothers step up to the plate when her team's coach gets chicken pox.

Thomas, Shelley Moore: Good Night, Good Knight - The Good Knight takes care of three little dragons.

Some popular series for beginning readers are:

Cazet, Denys Minnie and Moo
Howe, James Pinky and Rex
Lobel, Arnold Frog and Toad
Parish, Peggy Amelia Bedelia
Rylant, Cynthia Henry and Mudge
Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman Nate the Great
Van Leeuwen, Jean Oliver and Amanda Pig

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