By Rhonda McDonald, Reading Specialist, Guest Blogger
“I can read! I can read!" Have you ever heard students say this? When the light bulb clicks, and the words on the page begin to make sense, it is an exciting moment. Reading to children from a very early age is important in preparing a foundation for oral language development. The child is able to orally understand vocabulary words that he or she hears long before being able to read them on the printed page. As the child begins learning letters, he or she begins to put the sounds together to form words. Continue reading for tips on how to dig deep into appropriately leveled books for your beginning readers to ensure successful kindergarten literacy!
It is crucial to help parents foster a love of reading in their child by suggesting they make a special time of day for reading at home. Books become treasured friends as rich discussions take place about the characters. Parents may notice their children asking to reread favorite books over and over until they have memorized most of the story. This is all right, and parents should understand this is an important pre-reading strategy. They should also be proud that their child is learning that the words on the page give meaning to the illustrations or photographs on a page.
Hameray Publishing has many leveled guided reading books beginning with level A. These texts will have limited words on a page. The same words are repeated over and over to create a simple sentence structure. There are several collections with "just right" books for five- and six-year-olds. One of many fun narrative texts in the Kaleidoscope Collection is My Birthday, which tells about things associated with a child’s birthday. This book has fourteen words in total.
Colorful photographs on each page of this book support the text and guide the child into predicting what the words may say. Repeated readings help the child to gain confidence with the text. The children will want to share memories of a birthday party that was special to them. They may even want to tell about what kind of party they wish to have.
You could plan a pretend birthday party for a book character and have the children each bring a stuffed animal to celebrate. Invitations could be written, illustrated, and delivered. For example, if Winnie the Pooh would like a party with honey, the children could draw pictures on a large piece of construction paper and use those for placemats to prepare for the party. If you plan a party for Babar the Elephant, the children could cut strips of yellow paper to feed him some hay. Curious George, the monkey, might want to eat some bananas.
Dogs is another great example of the many level A books for kindergarten that can be found in the Kaleidoscope Collection. The pattern of the text is predictable, with fourteen words in total. The child can use the picture prompts to decode the words on the page. Prior to reading the book, let the students do a “picture walk” through the pages to predict what this book is about.
Activate their prior knowledge by asking them about dogs that they know. Talk about the things that their dogs do. Improve vocabulary by using words that describe dogs. You can record these words on a chart. Examples include: color words (black, brown, white, tan, gray, golden), size words (big, little, short, tall, fat, skinny), and hair words (shaggy, curly, short, long, smooth).
After the children become confident with the text of the book, ask them to read with a partner or in small guided reading groups. They may want to act out the things that dogs do. Write the words on flash cards and mix them up. Then ask the students to find the words that match each page of text.
They could also create a new book with other actions of dogs.
Example: Dogs jump. Dogs swim. Dogs eat. Dogs bark.
The new book could be illustrated with children’s art. Another variation would be to create a book about a different animal’s actions.
Example: Monkeys climb. Monkeys jump. Monkeys sleep.
To take the student-produced book a step further, you could scan the pages and create a slideshow to share with the class. If small groups or partners worked on the book, they could read it to the class.
You may want to create an individual box of books that the child can read independently. Place leveled books that have been mastered in the box. When selecting new books, think about interests of the child, nonfiction books for kids, particular characters, etc. Let the children help with the book selection so they will be motivated to read the books. When you feel the child is ready to advance to level B, it is helpful to administer a running record on a level A book. If the child can read it successfully, then it is time to advance to level B.
Level B books will have a few more words on each page. Who Likes to Swim? has a total of 38 words and is a narrative text example found in the Kaleidoscope Collection. Level B books will also use repeated patterns of words or phrases to help the child learn the text. Common sight words are also introduced at this level.
Each reading level builds upon the reading and comprehension skills of the previous level. It is crucial that the student has a firm foundation with level A to gain mastery of the next level and subsequent levels. With consistent practice, praise, and encouragement, a fluent reader will emerge. Most important of all, reading time should be fun, so the beginning reader will be motivated to read.
Be sure to continue checking this blog for instructional support with leveled readers, fun activities, and more!
Rhonda was a Title 1 Reading Specialist in Botetourt County Public Schools, Virginia. She now substitutes and visits schools and libraries to lead writing workshops, story time, and parent workshops. She is also an author of children's books and several titles in our Kaleidoscope Collection and Zoozoo Animal World series. If you like what you read here, you can enjoy more by Rhonda on our blog.