Friday, September 14, 2012

9 Books for Beginning Readers

I have had a lot of friends ask me about teaching reading, so I thought I would do a few blog posts on the subject for the next couple of Fridays.

I do not think you need to do exactly what we do, but maybe some of what I say will be helpful as you make decisions for what is best for your family.  I hope that today's post will help you find some good, quality resources for when the time comes.

Do you have questions about teaching your child to read?  I would love to hear them!  I may not have the answers, but I enjoy some good dialogue.  Maybe you have some valuable experiences to share or some favorite first books your children enjoyed.  I'd love to hear what you have to say, so please leave a comment!

9 Favorite Books for Beginning Readers -
(In order from easiest to more challenging.)

1.  For a solid start in phonics, I recommend this book.  It worked very well for us and I liked that the lessons were nice and short.  We were done in 10 minutes each day, which was a good amount of time for focused learning for my little guy.  We did not do the writing portion of the lesson because my son just wasn't ready with his fine motor skills.  For us, nothing was lost by skipping it.  For other more kinesthetic or tactile children, this may be more valuable.  I plan to spend more time talking about this book in another post in the series, so stay tuned.

2.  About 1/3 of the way through "100 Easy Lessons", we started reading some BOB books and the second level was just right for that.  My son was very proud to be able to "read a whole book all by myself!"

3.  Hop on Pop has long been a favorite.  I like that the child can start out reading the large bold words at the top of the page and you can read the rest of the dialogue, until the child graduates to reading all of the words himself.

Side note - I have learned that I need to store beginning reader books on an out of the way bookshelf lest they be read and read and read and thus memorized beforen the child turns 2!  This is what happened with most of our Dr. Seuss books.  And Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff.  After Big Littles finishes with them, I'm putting my Arnold Lobel books away so Little Littles doesn't memorize them before his time. 

4.  Speaking of Arnold Lobel, he does some wonderful readers and most of them are probably at your local library.  Look for the Frog and Toad series, Owl at Home, and Grasshopper on the Road.  His books have been favorites, and Mouse Tales the most favorite of all.  Something about it really tickled Big Littles' funny bone. 

5.  There are several Little Bear books that we enjoyed, and they are all sweet books.

6.  This was a random garage sale find, and what a happy one it was!  This old book was such a delight for my son.  The first two chapters were a little slow, but once he got into the story, he read the rest of it in a single day. 

7.  This was recommended on Raising Olives as "the single favorite reader of all of her children".  With such a high recommendation, I requested it on Paperback Swap and it became a favorite of my son's as well.  This is another book he devoured in a day.  Do remember, this is Pompeii, so there will be people dying in this book.  It rather shocked his Nanna to hear him so excited to read Chapter 3 - "Buried Alive".  But the book is well done and the most exciting thing he has read so far. 

8.  My son was ready for a step up from classic readers, and this has been a great series for that next level.  The print in the Dover editions is large and there is adequate white space between the lines.  There are lots of good challenging words for him to learn to read and the chapters are just the right length for a reading session for him at this time - about 3 pages long.  As for the stories, they are delightful, old fashioned stories about forest animals that have obvious character flaws, but they learn from their mistakes.  With about 25 or so short chapters in each in Thornton Burgess' series, we can also stick with a book for a while, which is also a good challenge.

I was happy to find these because I was looking for a step up to challenge my son, but I knew that if the chapters were too long, he would tire out, so we needed some good middle ground.  Based upon a recommendation, I first got the Christian Liberty Nature Reader, which had chapters of a good length, but they were a little too dry and boring for us and stats about each animals height, weight and what they eat were just not engaging enough for him.  These lively stories about animals with which he is very familiar were a better fit for us.

9.  And finally, I was looking for a good Bible that he would be able to read himself.  This was the most difficult search of all!  I wanted large print, adequate white space, and heavy paper for the pages (i.e. - not the easily ripped onion skin paper), but I also didn't want something too large and too heavy for him to carry.  In my searching, I was realizing that large print adult Bibles just wouldn't be sturdy enough for him to use.  (I have since found that a large print, hardcover ESV pew Bible might have worked, but I'm still happy with the Discoverer's Bible.)

I don't like most children's Bibles because I don't like much commentary, especially when I disagree with the doctrine being taught in it.  The Discoverer's Bible is well done, though.  I did tear out one page on "The ABCs of Becoming a Christian", but nothing else was lost with that one page coming out.  In all other ways, it is a good Bible for him to read.  It is also available in the King James Version, but I thought the language would be too much for him at this time.  When we have our Bible Time or our Family Bible Studies, it is a great Bible for him to use for reading aloud or following along when someone else reads aloud. 

Another helpful resource:
The Four Moms did a post on Books for Early Readers.  I've linked The Common Room there, and you can read her post and click on the links for the other three moms to see what they recommend.

Note - All of the books pictured above are Amazon affiliate links.  If you order anything from Amazon through my links, I get a small percentage back.  It is usually between 4-6%.  It does add up and all of the proceeds go to buying Homeschool books for our family.  Thank you to the kind readers that have made Amazon purchases through my links! 

If you don't order through my Amazon link, you might be interested in Paperback Swap.  This is how I get many of my books and I think it is the cheapest way to get books other than a yard sale.  You can learn how to swap books here.  If you sign up by clicking on my banner below, I get a couple of free book credits.  Yay for me!

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Happy Reading!

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