Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Helping Young Readers

   Today for Elise's story time, she picked some Phonic Readers that I'd forgotten.  As I read to her the simple stories I remembered how I stumbled across these greatly appealing early reading books.  When my oldest struggled with reading in the 2nd grade, his teacher offered to lend me these easy sets of readers called the Clifford Phonic Fun Reading Program.  Each set had about 8 books that progressively got harder.  And there were 3-4 sets I believe.  As he began reading them, he was motivated to read because he knew the characters.  I also made sure to record a few episodes on our DVR so he'd continue to feel that familiarity.  I had tried other Easy Readers like the Bob Books and other Phonic readers but he really didn't seem to like them at all, not liking how each book had different characters.  When we picked up the Clifford books each day, it was like we were coming back to an old friend.  By the time he reached the last set, he was reading at a solid 2nd grade level!  I was excited!  He could finally handle a chapter book series like "The Magic Tree House". 
      Going back over the process of teaching my kids to read, I've done the same thing over and over again.  About at the age of 4, I slowly start lessons from Teaching a Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, an old book from the 70's that gives simple short lessons with a script to help you as a parent know what to say.  I didn't do these lessons in consecutive days, just a few a week or a month, whenever I remembered, not worrying too much about the writing portion until they were older.  By the time they came to Kindergarten I tried to get them to at least Lesson 30.  During our reading homework that year, I'd intermix their reading from the Clifford books and the Lesson book until they got to about Lesson 60-70 and stop there.  Then during 1st grade I'd have them finish reading all the Clifford Books. 
         The next step was to transition into the "Magic Tree House" books by reading a chapter a day with me over the summer.  After that, they seemed to be confident readers picking out some of their favorite books from school, book orders, book fairs and characters they were into like Star Wars Easy Readers from the Library.
        They've enjoyed series like "The Rainbow Fairies" series (3rd grade girls), Hank the Cow dog Series (3rd-4th grade boys-start by listening to a book on CD in the car first), Nancy Drew (4th-5th grade), Hardy Boys (5th grade and beyond), The Lemonade Wars Series (5th-beyond).  At first they didn't really like reading and meeting new characters, so trying out a series and sticking with these same people made them more invested.  For their first series of 20-40 books completed, I'd usually let them pick out a game from Game stop.  This might seem opposite of the purpose but it truly motivated my kids. :)

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