Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hone Reading Skills on These Titles

One of the most exciting times in a person's life is that moment when all those funny looking squiggles come together to make words and those words make sense and suddenly a new world is opened within the covers of a book. Those of us who grew up with Dick, Jane, Sally, and Spot can appreciate the early readers of today more than young people who never knew life before The Cat in the Hat. I have talked about early readers before so I will simply urge you here to wander through that section of your library or bookstore to find those that interest your new reader. You will find some familiar friends who are just as much fun as you remembered--Frog and Toad, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Commander Toad, and Amelia Bedelia. Newer characters include Fly Guy and Piggie and Elephant. My biggest advice is to not buy only those tied to the latest pop culture. Let your child learn to read with some of the tried and true titles. They get lots of Pokemon, My Little Pony, Dora, and Diego on TV. Books with those characters won't hurt them, but do you really want them to be the only things they know?

Suddenly your child is ready for chapter books. These are sometimes hard to find because along with reading skills come definite opinions of what to read. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Girls have lots of options at this age like Junie B. Jones, Ivy and Bean, and, my favorite, Clementine by Sara Pennypacker. All of these have several books in the series and feature spunky, funny girls who will remind you of that perennial favorite, Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary.

  2. At first glance, it may seem that there are fewer books aimed at boys at this level but look again. Marvin Redpost by Louis Sachar, Ready, Freddy by Abby Klein, and The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith are all good starting points for getting boys to enjoy adventure and humor in the same book.

  3. Attach of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty will remind many people of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey or Fat Camp Commandos and others by Daniel Pinkwater because of its wild and weird events. This is something that may not please mom nearly as much as it pleases young readers, most of whom value odd attacks sugar crazed alien bunnies. Books of this type start many a reluctant reader down the road to fine literature.

  4. Kate DiCamillo has written some wonderful novels for older readers and dabbled in picture books yet it seems that her first chapter book series Mercy Watson often gets overlooked. Mercy is a very spoiled pig who likes good food, a trait that often leads to disaster. Her doting humans find a way to make everything seem normal and fine. These are always good for a smile.

  5. Everyone loves Doreen Cronin's picture books like Click, Clack, Moo, and Diary of a Worm, so it is no surprise that she has written a great chapter book. The mystery The Trouble with Chickens features J. J. Tully, a wise if not always patients dog who though he was retired until two chicks come asking for help to find their missing siblings. The story takes exciting and humorous twists on its way to a satisfying ending.

Enjoy the search that for those books that build the bridge to becoming a life long reader.

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