Encourage independent reading gently
For the Appeal
Once a child has begun to learn how to read, one of the greatest confidence-builders is to have reading materials available that are actually a bit below the child’s reading level. There is nothing quite as frustrating as a book that the child stumbles through. A child will be more readily convinced of the joys of independent reading if the reading materials can be enjoyed without faltering.
One way to help encourage this activity is to have the child to read aloud to a younger child. The younger child will be thrilled, and the reader will feel very grown-up, providing a real boost of confidence.
The translation is simple – don’t worry if your newly independent readers want to read below “level,” and don’t worry if they re-read the same book several times. Sooner or later the child will tire of the same old story and elect something else. Try it for yourself and see what happens.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
“How I Became a Pirate” by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon, Harcourt, 44 pages
Read aloud: age 3-4 and older.
Read yourself: age 7-8 and older.
Jeremy Jacob is at the beach building a sand castle when he sees a pirate ship sailing by. When Braid Beard and his crew come ashore, they admire Jeremy’s castle and tell him what a good digger he is. In fact, they need a good digger to bury a chest of treasure, and invite Jeremy to join the crew.
Jeremy quickly adapts to pirate life, singing sea chanteys, living carefree, and tossing his manners overboard. Jeremy thinks there can’t be a better life for him, but when a bad storm blows up, Jeremy quickly learns that the pirate life isn’t all that it’s cracked-up to be, nor all that he really needs.
Full of awesome illustrations, this fun, humorous story (with just the right amount of suspense), makes for a great way to entice children into the world of reading.
Library: Douglas County Public Library: 1625 Library Lane, Minden
Library Director: Linda Deacy
Youth Services Librarian: Kathy Echavarria
Choices this week: “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?” by Jane Yolen; “Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark” by Mary Pope Osborne; “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
Books to Buy
The following books are available at favorite bookstores.
“Duck at the Door” written and illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, HarperCollins, 2007, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 4 and older.
Read yourself: age 7-8.
Irene lived in a house full of all kinds of animals. Late one night when everyone was fast asleep, the animals awoke to the sound of someone knocking on the door. Who could it be? The animals were frightened, but when Irene came to the rescue, they all saw that it was a duck, standing cold and shivering in the snow.
Irene brought the duck inside. He introduced himself as Max, and explained that when his flock flew south for the winter, he decided not to join them, thinking that winter would be fun. Now, Max was just cold and lonely, and Irene invited him to stay. Little did Irene and the other animals know what they were getting into.
Hilarious from start to finish, this wonderful tale is sure to delight children of many ages.
“Grandpa Spanielson’s Chicken Pox Stories: The Shrunken Head” written and illustrated by Denys Cazet, HarperCollins, 2007, 48 pages, $15.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 4-8.
Read yourself: age 7-8.
When Barney gets the chicken pox, Grandpa knows Barney needs one of his famous anti-itch Chicken Pox Stories to keep Barney’s mind occupied. And so he begins to tell Barney his tale of “The Shrunken Head,” back from the days when Grandpa was a famous explorer. One day, Grandpa and Doc Storkmeyer were riding bicycles in the jungle when they were attacked and captured by a fierce tribe of head-shrinking pooches. Their queen (a very large dog) fell madly in love with Grandpa and insisted on making Grandpa their king. Grandpa wouldn’t hear of it, and when the queen was rejected, she commanded her tribe to shrink both of her captives. Would they be able to escape? Another “I Can Read” book from HarperCollins, this engaging and very funny selection is perfect for newly independent readers.
• Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.