Kids Books with Jessica – Easy Readers
Easy Readers are a collection of books that are aimed at children learning to read. The books available at the library are classified into three groups – Ready, Steady and Go. This is to help children, and their parents or guardians, find books for the right level of reading.
Easy readers are also great for people who are coming to English as a new language.
It’s important to remember that children come to learning things both when they are ready and when they see the people around them doing it.
Our strongest language skill, no matter what language you speak, is our ability to converse verbally. We can understand what is being said to us before we are able to speak and we need to learn to speak and speak well before we learn to read. We pick up oral language from the adults around us and we replicate what we see. We are also learning about grammar (how we put words together to make meaning) and comprehension (and understanding of the meaning from words). Grammar and comprehension are intertwined very closely and they impact on one another in every bit of language we hear, say, read, or write. The more we are spoken to as small children, and the more time is given to us to develop our ability to make ourselves understood when we are speaking, the stronger our grasp on grammar and comprehension are. This is one of the reasons that reading, like so many things, does not necessarily need to be learned early. If children are ready there will be signs. Helping children to develop familiarity with the words around them and print awareness are also important skills that assist in our ability to read without formally learning to read.
One of the biggest factors in the making of little readers is what they see. If they are read to, if being read to is something joyful and delightfully shared, and if they see the adults around them reading then children know that reading is important. The joy of reading is something that can be nurtured from when children are just born (as language development starts in our brains before birth) through sharing books.
Easy Reader Collection
Three levels of books for beginner readers:
Level one – Ready
These are very easy reads for beginners. The text is very simple, with a couple of words or sentences per page and large illustrations.
Level two – Steady
These books have up to a paragraph per page, and simple storylines. The words used are getting more complex. Illustrations support the text.
Level three – Go!
These are first chapter books. They have a strong storyline, with less focus on the illustrations.
Choosing A Book
We have three levels in our collection. They span from simple sounding out and sight words through to simple chapter books. Each stage will hold a text suitable for a range of abilities. The number/letter identification that appears on some books differs between series and title. It is always best to look at the book before deciding if it is suitable for your child. The following is the suggested method of doing so:
- Have your child read the first page/paragraph of the book. If they read a majority of the words on the page but not all this is an appropriate level for them.
- Some books have high frequency words in the back, check to see if your child can read them. These are also a great resources for practising sight words (words that children should know by sight and be able to recall immediately).
Moving Between Stages
Moving between the stages can be a difficult progression to assess. Below are some indicators that your child is ready to move up a stage or to find more difficult books within your stage.
- Pauses only for unfamiliar words.
- Corrects for meaning. One of the best indicators that you child is understanding rather than just reading is when they go back over already read text and correct their own mistakes.
- Fluency and expression. If a child reads with pacing and expression rather than pausing between each word, it is a sign of fluency and that they are comfortable with the level of language being used.
There are lots of books in our Easy Reader collection so I wanted to start by highlighting some of our most popular series. Some of them move across the different levels and others are all in one level but they will give you a place to start and as there is leveling withing the series you can start at book one and see what works.
Sometimes the hardest thing to know is what to do to help your child learn to read. As an ex-teacher, I have some tips.
Tips for Reading With Your Child
- Focus on the task.
- Give them thinking time for unfamiliar words.
- Children will often go through their word decoding strategies silently before attempting the word.
- When a few seconds have passed, prompt sounding out strategies over giving them the word.
- Provide the word if it is a strange or an unfamiliar name.
- Give your child a chance to self correct before correcting them.
Things to Remember
- Reading a book more than once is invaluable for learning and helps with confidence.
- Practise is as important as learning new words when learning to read.
- There is nothing wrong with mistakes.
A good tip is to give your children a chance to read with someone different, let them read to the dog, let them call their Aunty and read to them. These tricks can give children the confidence to know they won’t be corrected so they can feel free to make mistakes.
Word Decoding Strategies
Word decoding are the strategies that teachers show children to help them work out what an unfamiliar word is. You probably use them all the time too – but, as adults we’ve made this process so ingrained that we often don’t think about what we’re doing as we’re sounding out that unfamiliar word. As children are learning these skills it takes them a lot longer to go through the process so remembering patience is always very important.
Look at the pictures for clues while reading. The pictures in picture books and early readers are deliberately linked to the text so that they give children clues. This skill is also tied to our visual literacy.
Sound the word out.
This strategy is powerful and develops beyond the initial sounds that are the first learned as children’s phonetic awareness develops.
Be aware that this does not always work. Some words use rules which do not conform to sounding out but it is still the one used most regularly even in fluent adult readers.
Look at the letters that come together to make a sound.
sh th ea
This is a development of the simple sounding our strategies that children learn first. As they learn more chunks their ability to sound out changes from sounding out every letter to chunking and then using the same strategies of pulling the sounds together to work out what the word should be.
Connect to a known word
Look at the word and see if it has smaller words you know inside. Children can then use this known part and combine it with their other strategies to work out the word.
Re-read the sentence
Go back to the beginning and re-read the sentence which may provide a clue and will often be easier on the second read.
Comprehension is the ability to understand what you read. It is the skill that allows us to answer questions about what we read, what it means, what is important and why. Comprehension is a higher skill than reading and needs to be developed through practise. There are a number of comprehension strategies, below are a range suited to early readers.
There are two categories of questions, simple and complex.
Simple questions are important.
- Who are the main characters?
- Where does the mouse live?
- When did the mouse run down?
- What is that animal?
However, the more complex the question becomes the more comprehension skills are needed.
- Why did the bear do that?
- What would happen if the stepmother was nice?
- How would you react if you were Snow White?
Illustrating the Story
Creating something that is based on a story requires good comprehension skills.
This can be a mental strategy as well as a physical one. For older children who have difficulty remembering what they read, picturing it is a great strategy for assisting with their retention.
With younger children, encouraging them to imagine the events as they read them can also add to their enjoyment of what they are reading.
Give your child paper and pencils and ask them to draw something from the book, a comic strip, or what they think happens when the story ends.
Retell the Story
Rather than reading the story again, use the pictures to retell the story. This can be done with picture books or early readers in a simple timetable.
Day 1—read the book
Day 2—re-read the book asking questions
Day 3—adult retells the book to show the child how it works
Day 4—child retelling
Don’t be at all surprised if children make parts up when starting out, it’s great for their imagination and can be an extension of this activity.
This skill can also be used with chapter books and as a way of checking for understanding by asking what has happened so far. Asking the child to retell what was read the day before or in the previous chapter.
Retelling the story to a sibling or family member who was not there for the reading is another opportunity to practise this skill.
Predicting is a skill that takes what you know from the story as well as personal knowledge to work out what is coming next.
Some of the ways to encourage prediction skills are:
- Pause in a picture book and ask what is coming.
- At the end of the chapter ask what they think will happen next.
- If there is a mystery try to solve it with reasoning.
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