5 Myths about Easy Readers

It should come as no surprise that Easy Readers are, by far, one of our most popular collections.  Well-intentioned parents come in seeking these books for their emerging new reader and we happily walk them to this collection and show them what we have.  It sounds logical enough, right?  Send the new readers to the Easy Reader section.  Job done… or is it?  We have found that there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings around Easy Readers, believe it or not.  In order to help your child get matched with the right reader for them, we are busting some of the myths we commonly come across that lead to a lot of frustration for parents and even more for their littlest readers.

 

Myth #1: Any book that says Level 1 is the same reading level.

 

I cannot tell you how often I have a parent come in saying “My child is a level 1.  Where are the Level 1 books?”  The parent is referring to the level the publisher has designated as their beginner reading level.  The problem?  Not all levels are created equal in the world of publishing.  To make this point, I grabbed three level 1 readers off of our shelves and used the Fountas and Pinell Guided Reading Levels (commonly called GRL) used by many of our area schools to compare them.  Each one, though saying Level 1 on the cover, came up with a different guided reading level!  They ranged from a level G to a level K.  This is the difference between a first grade and second grade level, which is fairly significant.

So how can you know which is the Level 1 your child is reading at?  First, ask your child’s teacher what reading system they use and if they have a reading level designated for your student.  If you come in and see us, we have a lot of tools up our sleeves to locate books at that level.  We also keep a list of books leveled by GRL behind our desk that you can use while at the library.  If you are unable to get the level from school and only know the level that was on the cover of the book, we recommend having your reader give books a “Test Drive.”  Have your child read a page or two out loud.  If they “hit the brakes” (struggle to sound out the words, skip words or mispronounce words without catching their error, or read the word but have no clue as to what it means and can’t figure it out from the context) 4 to 5 times, then it isn’t the right reader for them.  When in doubt, ask the librarian at the desk!

 

Myth #2: Easy Readers are only for kids learning to read.

There are two ends of the spectrum for this myth.  First, there are the parents who try and push their kids away from Easy Readers because they have figured out how to sound out words and show they understand what they are reading. Though sounding out words (referred to as decoding) and building comprehension are the basis for most Easy Readers, there is another piece to the puzzle called fluency.  Basically it means your child reads smoothly without stumbling over the words and reads with emotion, so they don’t sound like little robot readers.  Easy Readers are perfect for practicing this!  This also makes your child a more confident reader so that when they are ready to move onto more challenging books, they are ready and (even better) they are excited!

Another point here is that Easy Readers, in our collection anyhow, go up to third grade.  Most decoding mastery takes place in kindergarten and first.  So why do we go so high?  Because not all readers are voracious.  There are lots of kids who love to read and are at the appropriate level for their grade but maybe sitting still long enough to read a chapter book is hard yet.  These Easy Readers geared at the older kids are vital so that their love of reading doesn’t fizzle.  It allows them to mature into the longer books.

Remember I said there were two ends to the spectrum?  Well at the other end you will find the parents who steer their child clear of the Easy Readers because they are too young to learn to read.  While it is true that Easy Readers are designed with learners in mind, the bright pictures with lots of context clues, the few sentences on the pages, and the shortness in length makes them a great bridge from board books to picture books.  I’m not saying that there are not lots of picture books that are great for toddlers and prek kiddos because trust me, there are, BUT the Easy Reader section is great because it eliminates some of the lengthier, more complex picture books that might overwhelm your little one and cause more frustration than joy at story time.

 

Myth #3:  Easy Readers all teach reading in the same way.

There are many ideas on how kids learn to read in the most effective way.  Many schools push sight words (or Rainbow Words as they are sometimes called) so there are plenty of Easy Readers that emphasize this concept.  Others focus on easy Constant-Vowel-Constant (CVC for short) words like pig, bog, and cup so they write stories with very simple words that can be sounded out based on the child’s phonemic awareness (the sounds the letters make apart and when put together).  And speaking of phonics, what about phonics books that teach reading?  Yes, we have those as well.  The fact is, there isn’t one way that is right or wrong, better or worse.  There are different ways for different readers and it is our job to help all learners, so we provide a variety of Easy Readers that address all of these options and more.  In fact, we even try to have kits that teach using these various techniques that can be checked out for three weeks at a time.  If you let us know what works best for your child, we will happily show you what we have to meet their learning style.

 

Myth #4:  Easy Readers are all fiction.

Like most books, Easy Readers come in both fiction and nonfiction.  Many publishing companies get help from educational consultants to make sure the content and reading level are in line, especially when it comes to Easy Readers.  In our library, the fiction Easy Readers are shelved by themselves but we mix in the nonfiction Easy Readers with our juvenile nonfiction collection so parents and teachers can grab a mix of books appropriate for a child to read on their own and books that can be read together to cover the more difficult language and concepts they may be learning about.

 

Myth #5:  Easy Readers are easy!

Learning to read is anything but easy!  It is a complex skill that requires practice.  Lots of practice.  It seems that calling Easy Readers Early Readers or Beginning Readers is more accurate.  To anyone who has sat with a frustrated 5 year old trying to make sense of silent e’s or why the letter sounds of s and h change when they are side by side in a word knows this undertaking can be difficult.    Expect it to be a process and stay positive!  The more you can encourage and praise your child’s efforts, the more confident they will become.

 

 

 

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

I’m not much on realistic fiction typically.  Living through upper elementary and middle school was hard enough the first time, right?!  For some odd, quirky reason though, the realistic graphic genre has totally grabbed me.  I get knots in my stomach every time a character hits an awkward spot and am cheering them on when they have a victory.  The graphic format is just more powerful for me.

Real Life by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham is one of the best in this genre, by far.  This should come as no surprise.  This is the duo who has already blown us away with The Princess in Black series.

This new title though is one that unlike their fantasy series for early readers, lands us in the very real, very challenging topics of friendship, growing up, and finding your “tribe”.  The friends who get you and have your back no matter what.  Anyone who spends time with children knows friendship brings some of the highest highs and lowest lows.  This book delves deeper into that from the child’s perspective.  The anxiety, the fear of rejection and confusion surrounding why, the joy and peace of acceptance.

The story is actually a memoir written about Hale’s own childhood, revisiting the ups and downs of friendship, family, and change.  As I read it, it brought back all the memories of the tumultuous nature of childhood friendships from my own childhood and the immense joy felt when you have acceptance and compassion.

The relationship between Wendy and Shannon is one I feel a lot of readers will connect too.  Between family dynamics and mental health issues, these two characters are pushed apart but in the end, come to see that they actually have an ally in each other and are family, regardless of past hurts.

This graphic novel is beautifully done and fans of Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, and Smile by Raina Telgemeier are going to eat this one up!

New Books @ MPL

This awesome array of new-book-ey goodness will be arriving at MPL soon!  Come check these titles out!

I am Not a Chair by Ross Burach

Could there be anything worse for Giraffe? Maybe being sat on by a skunk or smooshed by two hapless hippos, or worst of all—cornered by a hungry lion? No one seems to notice that Giraffe is not standing around just to be sat upon. Will he be able to find his voice and make his friends realize who he really is?

The Day I Ran Away by Holly Niner

While Dad tucks her in, a little girl named Grace calmly recounts her day—which was anything but calm.

Duck, Duck, Dinosaur: Noise At Night by Kallie George

Feather, Flap, and Spike are spending their first night in their very own nest. They tell stories and snuggle up to get a good night’s sleep, until . . . GRRORE! What’s that scary-sounding noise?

How to Find a Friend by Marie S. Costa

Two creatures …too busy …to notice each other! Finding a friend can sometimes be a hit-and-miss affair! When Rabbit moves into his new burrow and Squirrel moves into her new treehouse, they would both love to BUMP into a friend. But will that ever happen or will they keep on MISSING each other? With all the appeal of those ‘it’s behind you’ moments from pantomime, you can join Squirrel and Rabbit on their comedy CRASH course in how to find a friend!

Good Night My Darling Baby by ALyssa Satin Capucilli (board book)

In this lovely bedtime story, animals tuck in their babies, sing a song, and give a kiss good night, ending with parents tucking in their child for a sweet sleep.

I’m Grumpy by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (board book)

A grumpy cloud upsets his friend Sunny and must make amends. A sweet, funny, and simple introduction to the impact that emotions can have on those around you.

Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

Flora and the Chicks by Molly Idle (board book)

Idle brings her balletic heroine Flora to a younger audience in this nearly wordless board book that finds the girl struggling to keep up with a nestful of hatching chickens.

Brobarians by Lindsey Ward

Two brothers, two great warriors—two brobarians!—engage in an epic backyard battle, until the “magic that ruled all” (aka mother) calls them in.

Is Your Smile Like a Crocodile’s?

Get ready for fun as you compare your toddlers smile to the toothy grin of a crocodile.

Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung Na

Bird’s new in the forest, and as much as he’d like to befriend Bear, he never quite gets up the courage to say hello.

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins

Having failed in the hospitality business due to a rude and surly bear (Hotel Bruce, 2016), mice Rupert, Nibbs, and Thistle decide to go into publishing.

Carrot and Pea: An Unlikely Friendship by Morag Hood

Colin is tall. He’s orange. He’s a carrot! He’s nothing like Lee, a round green pea. He can’t do any of the things Lee and his pea pals can do. How can Colin and Lee ever be friends? A charming celebration of embracing differences and standing out in a crowd.

Amazing Animals: A Spin & Spot Book by Liza Charlesworth

 Be on the lookout for polar bears in the Arctic, elephants in the savannah, chickens on the farm, and more exciting creatures of all shapes and all sizes. Can you spot all 64 animals?

Bear Likes Jam by Ciara Gavin

When Bear discovers jam for the time, he can’t think of anything else. Mama Duck tells him that growing bears need to eat their vegetables first . . . but Bear can’t stand the strange green things on his plate. He only wants jam! It’s not until Bear notices the little ducks around him eating ALL of their food, that it finally clicks: Bear can have his dinner and his jam.

Spring & Rain Reads

You can tell Spring is in full force!  The rain is steadily coming down almost daily.  Of course, this means we have had tons of parents and teachers in asking us what books we recommend for Spring and rainy weather as they try to keep their little ones happy, taking advantage of the indoor hours together.  Here are some of our favorites! What books would you add to our list?

Stormy Night by Salina Yoon

Rain! by Linda Ashman

Once Upon a Rainy Day by Edouard Manceau

Worm Weather by Jean Taft

Splish! Splash! by Josepha Sherman

Let It Rain by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle

Rainy Day! by Patricia Lakin

Puddle by Hyewon Yum

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

Spring is Here! by Heidi Pross Gray

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand

Who’s Awake in Springtime? by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum

Mud by Mary Lyn Ray

 

New Chapter Books

I love walking into our office to find a cart of bright and shiny new books to look through! What I love even more is sharing our new books with you!  Here is a quick preview of some of the exciting new chapter books that have arrived at MPL in the past couple of weeks (or will be very soon). If there isn’t a link to the catalog on the title you are interested in yet, have no fear… that book will soon be here!  What new books are YOU reading?  We love suggestions!

 

The Adventures of Henry Whiskers by Gigi Priebe 

Henry Whiskers must face his fears and rescue his little sister from the scary Rat Alley in this fun, fast-paced debut chapter book set in Queen Mary’s historical dollhouse at Windsor Castle.

 

Joplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley

A heartfelt and magical middle grade novel in the tradition of Tuck Everlasting and Bridge to Terabithia, about family, wishes, and the power of true friends to work magic.

 

Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker

When Felix Yz was three years old, a hyperintelligent fourth-dimensional being became fused inside him after one of his father’s science experiments went terribly wrong. The creature is friendly, but Felix—now thirteen—won’t be able to grow to adulthood while they’re still melded together. So a risky Procedure is planned to separate them . . . but it may end up killing them both instead.

This book is Felix’s secret blog, a chronicle of the days leading up to the Procedure. Some days it’s business as usual—time with his close-knit family, run-ins with a bully at school, anxiety about his crush. But life becomes more out of the ordinary with the arrival of an Estonian chess Grandmaster, the revelation of family secrets, and a train-hopping journey. When it all might be over in a few days, what matters most?

 

The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron

Sent for the summer to their aunt’s sleepy village in the English countryside,Tess and Max find the key to a castlehidden from time and learn that wishes can come true, if they wish carefully. Perfect for fans of Half Magic and The Secret Garden—and for anyone who’s ever wondered if magic is real.

 

The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell

Ivy Sparrow and her big brother Seb discover a city beneath London where ordinary objects have magical powers.

 

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

Aventurine is the fiercest, bravest kind of dragon, and she’s ready to prove it to her family by leaving the safety of their mountain cave and capturing the most dangerous prey of all: a human.

But when the human she captures tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate, she finds herself transformed into a puny human girl with tiny blunt teeth, no fire, and not one single claw. She’s still the fiercest creature in these mountains though – and now she’s found her true passion: chocolate! All she has to do is walk on two feet to the human city, find herself an apprenticeship (whatever that is) in a chocolate house (which sounds delicious), and she’ll be conquering new territory in no time … won’t she?

Middle School: Escape to Australia by James Patterson

The trip to Australia Rafe has won starts badly, but after connecting with a group of misfits he finds a way to do what he does best–create mayhem.

 

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Very short for her age, Julia grows into her sense of self while playing a munchkin in a summer regional theater production of The Wizard of Oz.

 

Nnewts: Battle for Amphibopolis by Doug TenNapel

In the final, epic installment of the Nnewts trilogy, the fate of all Nnewts hangs in the balance! Herk, falling under the influence of Blakk Mudd, is slowly turning into a Lizzark and abandoning his Nnewt friends. Herk’s siblings, Sissy and Zerk, have been corrupted by evil and the Lizzark army is still threatening Amphibopolis with total destruction. Now the Nnewts need a true hero to step up and save the day before it’s too late!

Best of 2016 #1

Hopefully you have enjoyed reading our favorite reads of 2016. And now *insert drum roll here* our what we thought were the BEST 2016 had to offer…

 

Sarah

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian

This book celebrates the fact that love is love is love!

Marta

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm

This is one of the best, most entertaining, kid-accessible historical fiction books I have read in a long time.  The chapters read quickly and are packed with action or information to put the story together.  This book is so well written that it will capture even your most reluctant reader.  Beans Curry and his marble-playing gang The Keepsies had me rooting for them as they work with the New Dealers to rebuild Key West after the Depression while dealing with fires, illness, mobsters, and friendships.

Teresa

There’s a Bear On My Chair by Ross Collins

Mouse complains, with escalating rage, that there’s a (polar) bear on his chair.  When his words fail, mouse leaves and gets his revenge.  Sure to be a classic read-aloud!

Janna

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Like all great fairy tales, this book shows the light in a work filled with darkness and woe.  Several stories in one, this magical tale weaves separate narratives together to a riveting conclusion that will leave even the most seasoned reader enthralled.

Best of 2016 #2

We are almost to our top books of the year, but first… which ones made runner up? #2 slot here we come! To see more of the books we loved in 2016, click here!

Sarah

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Gerald and Piggie’s final book is filled with gratitude for everyone, but will someone be left out of the thank-o-rama?

Marta

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Adjusting to a new town is hard enough for Cat.  Not only is she trying to make new friends, figuring out how to get along with her neighbor, and creating a social life for herself without her little sister butting in, but she also is going to have to figure out how to live in a town filled with ghosts! The relationship between the sisters in this book is so realistic and the art, as always, is amazing!

Teresa

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

As a family takes to the friendly skies, no one know what happened to Monkey except the little girl who packed him (with his tail hanging out of the suitcase)!  Follow along in this Knuffle Bunny-esque narrative to see if Monkey is reunited with his girl.  More than just an introduction to the airport, the story is a look at the wide world itself.

Janna

Meltdown! by Jill Murphy

Parents everywhere can relate to this tale of the evolution of a child’s world-class tantrum.  The illustration style is a bit old-school, but the interactions of Mom and daughter are spot-on, and my daughter clearly identified with the tantrum-ing Roxy.