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.

 

 

 

Build A Boat Contest!

We LOVE contests!  Especially ones that have our patrons sharing their creative gifts with us!  In the past have done various creation contests that fit whatever the summer reading theme is that year such as castles, critters, and beach bags.  This year, with a water-theme for summer reading, we went with boats!  Our only real rules were that the boats had to fit a base of no bigger than 12″ x 18″ and that no food items could be used to build.  Otherwise, anything was fair game (and no, they didn’t have to survive a float test!).  The boats that came rolling in blew us away!

 

We have four categories up on display currently.  To make it fair, the categories are preschool and kindergarten, grades 1 through 3, grades 4 through 6, and a family category which is new but hugely popular! The cool thing is that patrons who come in can vote for their favorite in EACH category.  The winners will be displayed for a week before going back to their creators with a prize.  Voting is going on through the 20th, so if you haven’t voted yet, stop by and cast a ballot for your favorites!

 

Sneak Peek… Fidget Spinners!

 

So we have an amazing Captain Underpants Party planned and ready to go for tomorrow night.  Let me tell you, planning this during summer reading has been no easy feat, but I think it will be totally worth it!  There will be a post coming soon on what we are doing for this cool party, but today I thought I’d give you a sneak peek into one of our party projects… DIY Fidget Spinners!

 

As most of us librarians do, I took to Pinterest looking for great spinner ideas.  I found some that were absolutely amazing, but many of them catered to small groups of children and had either pricier components or too many steps to be assembled and walk out the door with in the time frame we have to work with.  We are expecting at least 150 kids to come through and it is only an hour and a half drop-in event so time and cost were very important factors.

 

Then I stumbled on this gem of a blog post from Maggy over at Red Ted Art.  She has some AMAZING ideas on her blog so I definitely recommend clicking over to see her stuff!  Her blog inspired me because it didn’t have the expensive components so many others did.  After seeing her cost effective spinners, it got my mind racing to create spinners that fit our needs.  What you see below are the instructions to what I came up with.

 

These may not be the sturdiest spinners you will ever find BUT they definitely will prove fun for a while and are easy to recreate when one fizzles.  Fingers crossed the kids at tomorrow’s party are as excited about them as I am!

 

Best of 2016 #9

If you missed our faves in the #10 spot yesterday, check them out here!  In the mean time, on to…

Sarah

My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison

A story of true friendship and an understanding soul.

Marta

Quit Calling Me Monster by Jory Johns

Monster is very offended when people keep calling him… a monster!  He doesn’t want to fit the stereotype… or does he?  This book and the illustrations make for a hilarious read-aloud with preK on up.

Teresa

Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion

Will Pug and Pig ever learn to get along?  This darling story celebrates embracing change, being kind to others and finding friendship in unlikely places.

Janna

Hey, That’s MY Monster by Amanda Noll

A silly read-aloud tale of finding the perfect bedtime monster for you!  Parents and kids will both get a kick out of this one and laugh along with Ethan and Emma (and their monsters)!

May the Fourth Be With You!

May

Check out our great selection of Star Wars books! (This is just a small selection!  Visit the Children’s Desk for more suggestions.)