First grade was off to a very bumpy start for our grandson because of so many books. It’s hard to imagine too many books being a problem, especially at school, but it was. After a good kindergarten year and plenty of time at home being read to and practicing his reading, he entered his first grade classroom and saw books and baskets of books everywhere. They were well organized and inviting, but they were literally everywhere.
After a few days in the classroom we started to notice signs of anxiety and negative behavior. Then one night when choosing a book for him to read to us, he panicked. “I don’t remember that book!!” “I can’t read it.” “We never read it.” Turns out he was so used to the books we read at home, and we read a lot, that when he read to us, many of the books had become familiar. He thought you only read books that someone read to you first. In other words – People read to you. You memorize. Then ‘read’ back to them. So when in the classroom, there were so many books, he didn’t know where or how to find the ones he ‘knew’, hence the anxiety and negative behavior. And it was a pretty daunting task to think he was going to have to memorize all those books to be able to ‘read’ them. Fortunately it was a relatively easy fix, once we understood the problem.
Learning to read is about developing skill and confidence, but to be successful and want to keep at it, kids need to read the right books for their age, interest and ability level. How do you find appropriate books? Pick books that are ‘just right’ – whether it’s the seventh grade summer reading or books for your early reader, picking the right book really matters.
Sound hard? Trust me it isn’t… you don’t need a college diploma to know which books are perfect for your child’s reading level. All you need are your eyes, ears and a little parental discernment.
Don’t fall for the hype – When you’re combing the library shelves for books for your early reader, don’t go for the books on the latest movie craze. Spiderman, Cars the Movie or Ninja Turtles are full of names, characters and plot twists that are sure to have your early reader struggling. These books are written to promote the movie or toys, not help your child learn to read. Green Eggs and Ham is always going to beat Pokémon in helping children learn to read.
Librarians can be your best resource – Librarians know everything. And whatever they don’t know, they know how to find. Our son was ready for simple chapter books in third grade, but my experience after three daughters, left me unsure of what to suggest for him. I headed to the library and a wise and experienced librarian introduced me to Matt Christopher books. They were ‘just right’ length chapters and all written with sports minded boys in mind, perfect for our son. So whether you’re searching for the right level of book or subject matter that will engage your reader, librarians have the experience and resources to help you find ‘just the right’ books.
Follow the ‘just right’ rules- This free download has the information you need to help you or grandma find books that suit their current reading level. You don’t want your child skating by with easy books, you don’t want them struggling with difficult books… you want your child perfectly suited with a book that is ‘just right’. And yes, that’s a Goldilocks reference. Click to download!
Remember, it takes a lot to learn to read and it’s going to take time. Keep it positive. Make it fun. Praise and encourage them, just like when they were learning to speak. Be careful not to get impatient or upset. Keep calm and carry on. They’ll get there. And always, while they’re learning to read for themselves, keep reading to them. Let them relax in the comfort of a good story and the sound of your voice.