Monday, June 9, 2014

Encouraging Reading

I feel so fortunate that Henry loves reading right now. I know that may not always be the case, so I try to encourage it while he loves it. We read to him every night before bed, but we also read to him at various times during the day if he asks for it. I even read him the same book over and over if he requests it (I figure he's getting something out of the repetition--even though it drives me bonkers!). 

We go to the library every one to two weeks. I urge him toward non-fiction and realistic fiction, since he's three and is still trying to understand the real world. It's actually pretty easy right now. He wheels in his little suitcase full of his books, returns all of the previous one, and then sets up his suitcase on a table. I pull a book off the shelf and ask, "How about this one?" I select them based on his interests, so he typically says yes and then takes it to his suitcase. While he's going there and back, I'm searching the shelf for another appropriate book. 

We have one basket for library books and one basket for books he owns. Beyond that, we store the rest of his books in the closet. On a nightly basis, he likes to trade one of his old books for a new book. 

We accidentally stumbled upon Daddy Does in our collection (from my teaching days), and I realized that Henry is ready to memorize pattern books and "read" to others. He is not using letter-sound correspondence at all, but he is practicing how to hold the book the right way, flip the pages correctly, and understand that each page contains words that need to be read. 

I took a chance and ordered these pattern books, and Henry loves them. We've started a third basket of books that he knows how to "read." I read him one and then he reads me one out of his basket. He also keeps some of them on the toilet, which is adorable. 

I'm really picky about early readers. I can't stand phonetic books that try to isolate a particular sound but end up with a story that doesn't make any sense. Children need to learn from the very beginning that reading should make sense and when it doesn't it probably means they need to reread to fix their comprehension. I would much rather have Henry practice phonics in a more isolated way (Montessori is great at this), while simultaneously providing Henry with whole reading experiences that teach him to read for meaning. When he "reads" his pattern books, he relies heavily on the pictures, which is actually a great strategy for young readers to learn. He's also learning that sentences need to make sense grammatically. The third piece he needs to learn is letter-sound correspondence. Then hopefully he'll be able to put everything together. 

The other thing we've been doing lately is cloze reading. I'll read several words in a sentence and then pause for Henry to say the next word. It's a way for children to practice reading for meaning because their guesses should be directly connected to the context clues. I started doing it for fun, and Henry loves it. He's already really engaged when we read, but it's amazing to see how closely he's paying attention. And I do think it helps him "monitor for meaning while reading" and "think critically and analytically about text and content." The things he remembers from books blow my mind. I started experimenting to see what he remembers from books we've already read, and when I read "Astronauts need to go to _______," he said, "college." 

They have the most amazing absorbent minds! 

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Isa said...

Do you have suggestions for other good early readers? How do you feel about the Seuss books? We read a lot of things, and I'm surprised by how well-written most of those feel to me, even if the animals are all made up. I personally can't stand children's books with bad rhyme schemes, as though it doesn't matter because they're small.

jduda said...

Thanks for this post Sara. My son just turned 3 in April and LOVES to read. He has a hat with a light on it and he will sit in bed after we have tucked him in and page through his books. I love your basket idea and trading one book out a night.. kind of like his own little library. The amount of kids books we have is overwhelming right now so that is something I am going to implement. Thanks for the suggestions on the early readers too. - Julie

Amanda said...

The stories aren't super thrilling, but Miss Rhonda's readers are good phonetic books with (very simple) stories that actually make sense. They hold my son's attention and have been great because he can really feel accomplished by reading them on his own--I didn't introduce them until he was beginning to sound out words, so they aren't memorized. It's nice to have a less frustrating alternative to "real" books, which always have some sounds he's not ready for.

Jillian Alcaro said...

The Brand-New Readers books are the best ones that I have found for early readers. They are short, decodable, funny, and *actually* have a story. The Piggy and Dad series is my favorite. I like that they have multiple books for each character (Kazaam is another favorite of mine) because you can talk about how characters change and even predict/infer what characters might do!

Jillian Alcaro said...
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