Pete the Cat and the Magic Sunglasses, by Kimberly and James Dean, is one of our favorite books at the moment. Anything Pete does, rocks. This cool cat looks good in his sunglasses, offering us life lessons as he shakes his blue cat blues and learns to see life in a whole new way. That's what great literature does for us; we see people, places and events in colorful, insightful ways.
Summer offers time to be with our kids, reading, writing, enjoying library visits including makerspaces and 3D printers, reading for the fun of it with first books, chapter books, young adult literature, classics, non-fiction and graphic novels. Road trips are perfect for audiobooks. Books go on picnics, camping, shared reading under a tree or in a hammock, anywhere and everywhere. iPads, Kindles, Nooks. Just read.
Set the stage for reading success at home.
1. Turn your home into a print and language rich environment. Create book nooks, crannies, forts made of boxes or blankets. Read in a little tent. Offer an invitation to stop and read. Books introduce us to other people, places and cultures. Our imaginations run wild with excitement as we meet characters like us or so different we can’t wait to see what they will do next. This is the beauty of fiction. Encourage reading non-fiction, too.
2. Create smart little readers by reading! Start reading to your baby right away. When your kiddo is a toddler, lap reading is not only heartwarming but an effective reading strategy. Your little is watching your eyes follow lines of print, notices you reading from left to right, hears your expression, and is immersed in the joy of reading. For pre or emerging readers, read books featuring rhyme, rhythm, and predictable patterns. As you read, point out that sounds make letters and letters make words. Sing along and use puppets or rhythm instruments. Unleash your creativity!
3. Continue reading with your children long past toddler stage. When kids start reading on their own, it’s still important to read together. You build vocabulary, boost comprehension, fluency, and model can do attitude and joy of reading.
4. Check the book’s reading level. Books need to be at an independent reading level. The easiest way is ask your child to put a finger down on the page each time there’s an unknown word. After five fingers are down, switch to an easier book. Children reading at a frustration level don’t understand what they read or won’t want to read.
5. Start family classic reading time. For fiction reading, let kids self-select favorite books. I like Captain Underpants. However, I am also a true believer in classic literature*.
Sharing great literature will be remembered as a family tradition. By turning off electronics a set time each day, you set the stage for lifelong reading success. Make a family reading goal – books you want to read together and post a reading record of what you read. While you are reading, stop and discuss the book. Do One Minute Book Reports. “I like this book because….” Discuss characters, plot, setting, and theme. “What did we learn from this book? Do we like the book? Would we recommend it to others?”
6. Read a variety of non-fiction. First, know your child’s background knowledge. Next, take a Book or Article Walk, noticing author, date, new vocabulary etc. As you read, make predictions or guesses, then read to find out if you’re right. Finally, summarize. Stop after each chapter, page or paragraph. This boosts comprehension. Reread if necessary, doing repeated readings.
7. Immerse your developing readers in a weekly theme or topic. Read fiction and non-fiction; use library books and Internet articles. At the end of each, share what you learned. Themes reinforce family values: love, friendship, loyalty, courage, heroes and heroines, discovery, invention and adventure. Have your kids provide examples from their reading which support the theme.
Take another look at your child's reading level.
Independent reading level: With fluent reading, word recognition errors (miscues) don’t exceed more than one per 100 words of text, with 90% or better comprehension.
Instructional level: Assistance is needed. Word recognition errors don’t exceed more than five per 100 words of text. Comprehension would be 75%.
Frustration level: Student understands less than 70% of the reading. and you may notice physical or emotional discomfort.
If you want to read a book or article with unknown reading level, make an educated guess.
Check out the length of sentences and complexity of vocabulary.
Generally, an easy selection contains short sentences and simple words, a more challenging title has longer sentences and abstract words.
Illustrations contribute greatly. Look for colorful art.
Type size counts. It’s measured in points. Select easy on the eyes type styles.
Leading is the space between lines. Larger spaces are easier to read.
Lines that are too long cause more eye fixations and slower reading.
You can use readability formulas, of course.
Sometimes a book is too hard for your child, but if there is a burning desire to read that selection, just do it. Provide lots of support.
Learn new, unknown words, any age or level.
Read the whole sentence to see if there are some clues to what the word might be.
See if any part of it looks like a word you already know.
“Cross checking” “Does it look right?” “Sound right?” “Make sense?”
Are there any known words in the word?
How does the word begin and end?
Is it a compound word?
Is there a prefix or suffix at the beginning or end of the word?
How many syllables are there?
Are there any word families?
Sound out the letters using cues.
Use context clues.
Ask for help, last.
Look up the word. What's its definition and origin?
Sampler of Favorite Classic Books.
Madeline, Five Little Monkeys, Stone Soup, Rosie’s Walk, Tikki Tikki Tembo, Strega Nona, Stellaluna, Are You My Mother? Ira Sleeps Over, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? Brown Bear, Love You Forever, Millions of Cats, Corduroy, Bear Shadow, The Carrot Seed, If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, Caps For Sale, Make Way For Ducklings, Chicka Chicka abc, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Yo! Yes? Rain, Leo The Late Bloomer, The Little Engine That Could, Goodnight Moon, Go Dog Go, The Snowy Day, Froggy Gets Dressed, Dr. Seuss books.
Chapter Books and Junior (YA) Novels Amelia Bedelia, James and The Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web, Sarah Plain and Tall, Stone Fox, Matilda, Hatchet and The River, Sign Of The Beaver, Call of the Wild, Patty Reed’s Doll, Harriet The Spy, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Caddie Woodlawn, Number The Stars, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Tuck Everlasting, Bridge to Terabithia.
New reading lists and ready to use resources.
Including Newberry and Caldecott titles: childrensbooks.about.com/od/forparents/tp/summer_reading.htm Also take a look at www.teachervision.com/reading/summer/6101.html. I like Imagination Soup's list imaginationsoup.net/2015/05/03/summer-reading-list-for-kids/. So there's a good start of books and resources for you to choose from.
Summeriffic reading offers a perfect combo of reading for fun, learning new information and polishing skills. Have fun responding with tech, drawing, writing, sketchnoting, singing and dancing. Check out local book clubs, special reading programs and events. Most important, snuggle up and read!
There's no summer slide, only a glide for Pete the Cat and our young readers. "Rockin'". Happy summer!
Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita