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Ever since my kids were babies, I’ve wanted to instill a love of reading in them. Probably because I love reading. I would so love to be on a warm beach with a good book and an iced coffee right now. Mmmm…or maybe a cocktail…
I digress. I’m so over it being winter. Kids. Kids and books. Let’s talk about that.
One of my favorite things to do with my kids is sit and read to them. In fact, that’s pretty much the only consistent kid activity we do together. Our board book collection is vast. Our crafting supplies, on the other hand, are dismal. I should probably buy some more construction paper…we need more coffee too…
Focus, Gina. Focus.
Still with me? Let’s get inspired about children’s literature. I have two young readers now—ages five and six. Currently in our homeschool, I do not use a formal reading curriculum with either of them (I do have materials for spelling, writing and English grammar, if you’re curious). I believe that the best way to be a strong reader is, well, to read a lot.
Even if you’re not a homeschooling family, your child can benefit immensely from spending a few minutes each day reading aloud with you.
According to Leigh A. Bortins, classical education advocate, there are three ways kids can boost their reading skills:
- Being read to from books above their reading level to increase speaking vocabulary.
- Reading easy books below level in order to master common words.
- Reading books at a comfortable level to gently increase the child’s reading skills. This is best done out loud with an adult who can help the student evaluate what is being read (from The Core, 90—I highly recommend this book to someone exploring their homeschool options).
My boys spend part of every school day reading aloud to me. The material we pick is easy enough that they don’t stumble through the vocabulary, but not boring. It’s challenging enough to familiarize them with new words and writing styles.
We go to the public library frequently. My kids, of course, are drawn to the pop-culture easy readers—you know, like Legos and Scooby Doo and all of the world’s most annoying TV shows in book form. In other words, the ones that are torturous for parents to get through.
Luckily, those aren’t our only options. I’ve been compiling a list of high quality easy-to-read children’s literature throughout our school year. If you’ve got beginner to intermediate readers (between approximately kindergarten and second grade), be sure you put these on your must-read list.
My pediatrician recommended this book and we have loved it. The unique phonics approach teaches your child how to decode all of the basic words they need to know to start reading on their own. It also teaches you, the parent, how to coach your child through learning new words, even when you’re done with the book. If you want to see this approach in action, check out this video of my son.
This is another fun phonics approach. As your child grows more confident in their ability to read, you can add new sounds with each book. There are variety of sets available; we have done some of the beginning readers and advanced beginning readers.
These are so much fun! At the beginning of the series, you and your child each read parts of the story. This way the kids can read a more interesting plot than something like, “Fat cat sat.” As your child advances, they are able to eventually read a whole story by themselves. We love these because the stories are funny and interesting and the illustrations are wonderful. Each book also has comprehension activities you can do together, which my kids really enjoy.
We all love Dr. Seuss, but some of his books are written for kids to read while others are written for adults to read to kids. This set contains our favorite books that my oldest son can handle on his own: The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, and Fox in Socks.
My son doubles over in laughter when he reads these classics. This is what I’m talking about when I refer to books that parents can enjoy along with the kids. If you haven’t read these, you are missing out. Other books by Arnold Lobel have also made our reading list.
These are a little bit more advanced, but they are excellent for helping your kids figure out all those crazy idiosyncrasies in the English language. Plus they’re pretty funny…who else could draw the drapes or dress the chicken or put out the lights and make it funny? I like the original classics by Peggy Parish, although there are currently some newer “easy readers” available.
We just recently discovered these and both of my boys are obsessed with them. They are written in 100 percent dialogue, like comics, which is fun and helps the kids practice inflection when they’re reading. There are a lot of these books available—and really, they are all good.
My first grader is getting to be quite proficient now that he has read through these books, so I’m looking forward to the next stage in our reading adventures. My five-year-old is still just beginning, and I won’t mind reading these again.
Have you read these books? What books would you recommend for young readers?
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