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.

 

 

 

Christina’s Corner: Every Child Ready to Read- Play

Part of an ongoing series highlighting the easy, no-cost ways that you can prepare your child for learning to read, today PrintChristina will be discussing the benefits of playing with your child.

Who says learning can’t be fun?

You may have heard that how important it is to prepare your young child for Kindergarten. However, it doesn’t have to be work. The American Library Association stresses the importance of play as one of their five components to their Every Child Ready to Read program. If you missed my previous posts on talking, reading, writing, and singing you can click on the links to read more.

As you can imagine, play is fun! It is also very important because it encourages creativity and imagination. It gives children an opportunity to express themselves and recreate what they see around them. Dramatic play allows a child to make up stories and become a character they have encountered in a book or replay a typical evening at home. This dramatic play will also reinforce how a story is structured with a beginning, middle, and end.

Little ones can surprise you by taking an object and finding a completely different use than what you had anticipated. This occurred when I did a toddler program. I put out paper towel tubes for the children to look through them. Some children did this. However, I saw many other uses for the tubes such as a bat, an oar, and simply rolling it across the floor. One child even tried to stack them tepee style.

If you are uncertain where to begin in encouraging your child in creative play, stop at the library. There are many activity books, puppets, puzzles, and kits that can be checked out to get you started. In helping your child, you may discover your own creativity start to percolate.

Through play children can learn a lot about language. They start putting words to objects and letting their imaginations fly. By stretching this imagination “muscle” children will be better able to make the leaps and connections necessary when it comes time for school.

So let the play begin!

Chistina

Christina

Christina’s Corner: Every Child Ready to Read

Part of an ongoing series highlighting the easy, no-cost ways that you can prepare your child for learning to read, today PrintChristina will be discussing the benefits of writing with your child. (See Christina’s posts on TalkingReading, and Singing here.)

 

 

Writing skills are developed long before a child actually starts writing out words at school. You can help prepare your child for this valuable skill when they are very little with any activity that works with their hand-eye coordination. This might be moving a bead along a string, or a knob along a track. This will help them develop their hand muscles. When a child can hold a pencil, using magnetic boards like those found at the library, can also help develop hand-eye coordination. Since children learn best by using a multisensory approach try using many different types of activities with them like the ones listed below.

Finger painting with pudding on paper is a fun tasty way to show that the movement of the child’s hand creates a pattern. Finger paint inside a sealed gallon bag lets your child play with the paint from the outside by pressing and pushing on the bag to draw shapes and letters.  This is fun and educational.

Shaping letters with dough or “writing” in a tray with sand or salt will help children develop hand-eye coordination while working with letter and shape recognition.

When your child can hold a crayon, encourage them to scribble and make marks. Have them “sign” their name on a picture to introduce the concept that what they write means something.  Often a child’s name is the first word they learn to write. Showing your child the letters in their name and giving them many opportunities to practice writing those letters will help them make the connection that letters create words.

As they get older, talk to your child about what they drew and write down a caption or write down a story with them.This again will help them make a connection between the spoken word and the printed language.

Skills take time to learn so don’t feel frustrated if they do not seem to be learning as rapidly as you would like. The important thing is that they be fun activities for you both to do and share together.

For more information on Every Child Ready to Read and fun ideas for building lifelong learners, stop by the Moline Public Library Children’s Desk!

Chistina

Chistina

Christina’s Corner: Every Child Ready to Read

Part of an ongoing series highlighting the easy, no-cost ways that you can prepare your child for learning to read, today PrintChristina will be discussing the benefits of singing with your child. (See Christina’s posts on Talking and Reading here.)

Singing is great. You don’t have to have anything special to sing, it doesn’t cost any money, and you can do it while doing something else. It can calm a child or improve their mood and it is a wonderful way for children to learn language. Just like a nursery rhyme, a song will teach new words, sounds, patterns, rhymes and the rhythm of language. Listening to a song breaks words down into syllables, making it easier for your child to learn them. Adding actions to the tunes can also helpful in developing coordination and strengthen a sense of self and creative expression. Songs can be great tools to help children remember words, stories and concepts. Do you mentally sing a part of the ABC song when you alphabetize something? Songs that you learn as children tend to stick with you.

Don’t worry about how well you sing. Your child does not care. You may be surprised at how well you remember nursery rhymes you were taught as a child. Ask staff in the Children’s Dept. for some CD’s to listen to with your child at home or in the car. Singing in the car makes a car ride go much faster! Attend story times at the library, as many will incorporate songs and action plays along with stories. Check out the internet for action play demonstrations or create your own. Even simple clapping to the rhythm can be will beneficial to help your child hear the different syllables. The most important thing is to have fun – your child will!

Chistina

Chistina

Christina’s Corner: Every Child Ready to Read – Reading

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Part of an ongoing series highlighting the easy, no-cost ways that you can prepare your child for learning to read, today Christina will be discussing the benefits of reading with your child.

Reading to your child is a fun and easy way to help prepare your child to read. Even the act of opening a book is teaching your child how a book works and what you do with it. Reading to your child will increase your child’s vocabulary, their general knowledge, prepare them for what letters and punctuation look like, as well as help create a bond between you and your child. Children enjoy reading because they are spending time with you and children who enjoy being read to are much more likely to be interested in learning to read on their own when they are older.

Things to Keep in Mind When Reading to Your Child:

Read to your child every day.

Don’t worry about how well you read. What is important is the interaction you have with your child. If you create a reading time, this will become a ritual your child will look forward to. While many parents read to their child at bedtime, it can be any time you pick when you are not feeling rushed.

Involve your child with the story.

Let your child turn the pages. Talk to your child about the book, ask questions as you read and listen to what your child says. Let them point things out. Discuss the meaning of new words to help build their vocabulary. At the end of the story, let your child retell it in their own words to help build their listening comprehension.

It’s okay to read the same story over and over.

Even though adults get tired reading the same story all the time, your child is learning vocabulary and story patterns by memorizing the story. It is also fun for them to be able to predict what will happen. We all like to know things. This starts at an early age.

Ask your librarian for book suggestions appropriate for your child’s age and current interests. If you are concerned about your child tearing pages, ask for board books which have cardboard pages.

It is never too soon or too late to start reading. The sooner you begin reading to your child the more they learn and the more fun you have together sharing.

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Participate in reading programs like the library’s summer reading program which begins June 6th or the national book program 1000 Books Before Kindergarten which begins April 30th.These programs can give you and your child goals to keep you focused on reading regularly and add another element of fun.  Ask at the Children’s Desk for details.

Christina

Christina’s Corner: Every Child Ready to Read – Talking

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Part of an ongoing series highlighting the easy, no-cost ways that you can prepare your child for learning to read, today Christina will be discussing the benefits of talking with your child.

Talking with your child is one of the best ways to help develop your child’s language skills. Children learn a language by hearing it spoken. They learn about the world around them, how to communicate with others, how to express feelings, as well as learn vocabulary and language skills that will help them when learning to read.

You can speak with your child anywhere. Speak with them about morning routines or chores around the house. Listen to what your child says in return. Answer their questions and expand on their statements. “Yes, that is a big dog. It is a St Bernard.” “What color is his coat?”

CaptureWhen you are in the car, point out things of interest, talk about signs you see. Can they guess what the signs mean?  Even if your child is not talking yet, go ahead and carry on conversations. It may feel silly at first, but remember that their minds are like sponges and are soaking up every word they hear. You are teaching them needed vocabulary and word structure, as well as stimulating brain development and creating a stronger bond with your child.

Some other great opportunities to chat during the day include at the store, waiting in line, during bath time, before bedtime, out for a walk, during meals, at a playground, the library and reading books.

Christina

Christina

 

Christina’s Corner: Every Child Ready to Read @ your library

PrintHow do I prepare my child to learn to read?

Everyone realizes that reading is essential to your child’s success in school and that some children seem to have an advantage when it comes to learning. How do you give that advantage to your child?

Learning to read has always seemed to be a bit of a mystery to many. Fortunately, it is never to early or too late to help your child develop needed language and early literacy skills that will help them later in school. As a parent, you are your child’s first and best teacher, and a tremendous role model. You can start your child’s path to learning with the following easy, no-cost activites: talking, reading, singing, writing, and playing. They may sound simple but they will have a tremendous impact on your child’s education.

Over the next few months, we will outline how each of these activities will help your child get prepared for reading.  Check in each month for simple explanations and tips!

 

Christina

Christina