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

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

PBS Parents - A Great Web Site for Grownups

Many parents know that PBS Kids is a great web site for their preschoolers to play and learn. PBS also has a section, PBS Kids Go! , for older children. In addition there are sections for grownups, one for parents and one for teachers.

PBS Parents provides a wealth of information and is well worth exploring. (Most of the information is also available in Spanish.) One area of great value is the section on "Reading and Language" which includes information about developing early literacy skills as well as information to help children already learning to read.

For families raising multilingual children, there is an article "Learning Two Languages: Questions Parents Ask." In addition to numerous articles, there are useful tools such as the "Bookfinder" which lists age-appropriate read-alouds or suggests books for children to read on their own. There is also information about starting a book club which includes discussion guides. Use the "Activity Search" in the "Fun and Games" section to find different activities that address various skills such as creative thinking or math & numbers.

Parent Guides explore the following topics in depth: "Child Development," "Children and Media," "Creativity," "Early Math," "Going to School," "Raising Boys," "Reading and Language," "Talking with Kids," and "Birthday Parties." The "Issues and Advice" section provides information by experts on a wide variety of topics. "Inclusive Communities" section provides a great deal of information for parents of children with special needs.

PBS Parents is a great web site for grownups. Bookmark it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spring Books for Ages 2/3

The following is a list of books with spring themes for two- and three-year-olds.

Spring Things: Fran's Flower by Lisa Bruce, Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert and In the Rain with Baby Duck by Amy Hest.

Birds: Baby Bird by Joyce Dunbar, Little Bird by Saviour Pirotta and Will You Be My Friend? by Nancy Tafuri.

Chickens: Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker, Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins and Tippy-Toe Chick, Go! by George Shannon.

Colors: Cat's Colors by Jane Cabrera, Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh and The Deep Blue Sea by Audrey Wood.

Many of these titles have bright and bold illustrations. Lois Ehlert, Keith Baker, Jane Cabrera, Nancy Tafuri, and Ellen Stoll Walsh all have other books that would appeal to two- and three-year-olds.

Amy Hest has written several other books about Baby Duck. Rosie's Walk is a classic picture book. Pat Hutchins has written several other great books such as Good Night Owl! and The Surprise Party. Audrey Wood is also the author of The Napping House and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear.

You and you child will enjoy exploring other books by the authors on this list.