08 February 2006

Baby books perfect for beginning readers

Our son has long outgrown the simple board books we read to him when he was a baby, but they're appearing again as he learns to read. Because he already knows and loves the stories (and most likely has all the text memorized), he's attracted to these books as he begins to read on his own. It's exciting to watch.

Other effortless ways to encourage beginning readers:

  • Point out bold, graphically interesting signs while in the car
  • Look at the newspaper together and read the least objectionable headlines
  • Cereal boxes (I still find these fascinating myself)

Any other ideas?

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You can ask Grandma and Grampa to write letters to him telling stories about funny things that happened to you when you were a kid. Ask them to write them in age appropriate prose and read them together with your child.

My daughter loves to pick words she knows out of catalogs. Leaps and Bounds (children's toys and safety products), Hanna Andersson (clothing), and Archie McPhee are our current favorites.

Trips to the library are always good. The library I went to when I grew up had children's hour, summer reading programs, and a storyteller would come during the summer. They also had a great kids' area. I'd spend 2 hours there, picking out books and reading. It also gave my mom a break to run errands or get a book for herself.

Although my son is too young to read by himself, I follow Dr. Seuss' advice - leave books laying around and let them see you enjoy reading. I guess it's probably no surprise that my son's 2nd and 10th words were book and read. He has ~100ish books of his own, and we keep about 10 or so in each room he's in and change the selections every week.

If you're reading to him every night, and doing it sitting beside him, then you just sometimes pick out a word from a sentence you're reading for him to figure out.

(Ok, time for all us yuppies to stop pretending there's any challenge to getting our kids literate... if you're reading this site, you're almost certainly not going to have any problems...)

Teach them great reading strategies that will help them all the way along by:
-"reading" the pictures, looking for clues about what is happening in the story in illustrations.
- talking about context, such as, "Well, he's eating soup, so he probably needs a...?" to help them look for hints
-talking about anticipating - what do you think might happen next?
As well, many of the hints above are terrific family literacy things - make reading together fun, let them see you read, talk about books you read, and read everything, everywhere.
- from a children's librarian and her teacher husband

One of the Best Books I have ever read on this topic is The Read Aloud Handbook. Librarians are great, but some just don't know your children, and where they are, and their exact needs. I love this book, because it gives you the facts, then helps you choose books that are tailored to your childrens interests. It has a "Treasury" in the back, that gives a list of books that are perfect for reading together.
Here is the link to the book from Amazon:

Regular trips to the library.

Story time together - point to the words as you read so they begin to learn that books go front to back and words go left to right.

Talk about the cover of the book and the title. Get them to predict what will happen in the story or what will happen next as you read. Ask questions about the pictures in the story.

The Bob Books are GREAT for beginning readers. That's how I taught my oldest to read.

My middle child has started working on Bob Books but she was more drawn to learning word families (words with same endings - cat/hat/rat/sat/mat).

The Leap Frog DVD's are great - Talking Letter Factory and Talking Word Factory. They teach letter names, sounds and beginning reading skills. There is also a board game and a great set of phonics fridge magnets that they make.

Let them "write" stories - they can tell it to you and you can write it down for them.

Point out lettes and words around you every day - signs at the store, packages of food that you're fixing at meal time, etc.

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