My goal with this series is to tell you about some of the newer books for young readers, the ones you might not remember from your childhood. The YA section of a bookstore has become a big and slightly confusing place (did you know that Barnes and Noble now has a “Teen Paranormal Romance” section?) and I think it’s worth pointing out some of the newer voices that you might miss in the brightly colored melee.
That said, when it comes to beginning readers you can’t do better than Dr. Seuss. There are a lot of books out there, conveniently labeled so you know which ones your kid should be able to read. Some of them are even pretty good. MiniB loves puppies so she is motivated to learn the Biscuit books, and they’re cute little stories, but she is still happy to let me read them while she helps with a word or two. No, the first book she took out of my hands to read herself was Green Eggs and Ham.
I have tried to find something new for you, I really have, but he’s the best.
So, instead of a list of books for kindergarten kids, I have a few tips for helping them read on their own.
1. Don’t be afraid of breaking out the baby books. You’ve probably got some lying around, the books with one or two words per page and big bright pictures. When your child first starts recognizing the written word, these baby books become very exciting. They can read the whole thing, without any help! The appeal won’t last long, but for the first month or two of independent reading, baby books can provide a major confidence boost.
2. Ask questions. There is a big difference between reading a group of words and reading a sentence. Periodically ask your kid about what just happened in the story. Repeating a sentence in their own words helps children develop their sense of context, and context is the greatest reading aid there is. Another thing you can do is repeat what they just read with the appropriate inflections, and encourage them to do the same. It helps turn the words into an idea.
3. How to tell if your kid isn’t ready for a certain book yet. I am totally stealing this from a checklist MiniB’s teacher sent home. If your child can’t read five words on the second page of their book, it is probably too advanced for right now. You shouldn’t expect them to be able to read every single word the first time around, but as long as it’s only a few words per page, you’ve got a good book. And it’s okay to read some words for them if they ask. You won’t be cheating them out of a learning experience by doing so.
4. Get a pile of Dr. Seuss books. Like I said, he’s the best. He uses the words they are learning in school. The pictures follow the text closely enough to give you a clue, but they don’t straight up tell you what the words on the page are. And his books are awesome.