I didn't plan to do a post like this before kicking off "New Reader Week," but I feel like, despite shepherding two of my three children through the learning to read process and selling books to parents for over 13 years that are supposed to do the same thing, I LEARNED some stuff I didn't know!!!
I have my reviews this week organized by reading difficulty level - tomorrow starts off with a re-write of a post from September on some of my favorite sets and publishers of beginning to read materials, as well as a link to a site with a great list of "sight words" so you and your reader can make your own books. Also, with great serendipity, I was able to add a link to a spectacular site that teaches you/kids how to make your own books! Thanks to my sister-in-law for your thoughtfulness and timeliness in sending me that link!!
Next, I have a post on picture books that can double as reading primers and a bit on the history of Dr Seuss' foray into that realm, which was new to me, as were some technical words I picked up from Education.com. Tuesday is a tribute to one of my favorite picture books/beginning to read books - books I have already mentioned in six other posts! - as well as a review of a beginning to read series that is similar.
Wednesday is a new series I discovered and Thursday is the first, best, only chapter book (under 50 pages) for new readers that I know of. Reading and reviewing this book helped me understand the progression of complexity in the world of beginning readers, which I can boil down to this simple, possibly obvious, distinction: Beginning to read books, those categorized as such, are, on the whole, collections of short stories. While they have chapters, often three or four, these chapters are really self-contained stories with their own beginning, middle and end. The jump to chapter books brings one continuous plot with a story arc that takes the reader through the book. This signals a fluency in the reader that allows her/him to grasp the complexities of a longer story/plot. I wish there were a shelf full of more books like the one I review on Thursday - I have so many parents, kids and reading specialists asking why there isn't a chapter book for kids who aren't ready for Junie B Jones and The Magic Tree House, the two dominant titles in the second grade readers series section?
And, finally, on Friday I have a beginning to read fairy tale book that I am so excited about! I hope some of you out there will pick it up and share your thoughts (and your kid's) on it with me (as with every book I review, but especially this one for reasons you'll see in the review.) I found so many great links and such a wealth of information about the author and related topics while writing this post. The author's site has links to the work of her three grown children who are truly amazing in their own right - I hope you'll check it out!
I had such a great time putting these reviews together (notice the proliferation of exclamation points...) I hope you have half as much fun reading them!