A lot of my time as a Cybils panelist was spent discussing exactly what it means for a book to be an Easy Reader. There is such a huge range of books that are published under this descriptor. Just a quick glance at the Cybils’ Short List of Easy Readers will show you what I mean.
These are both fantastic books but as one panelist said, it’s much like comparing apples to oranges.
As a reading specialist and as a mom to a new reader, I have a passionate definition of what makes an easy reader.
To me, easy readers are designed to give the newest readers a sense of confidence. That sense of reading a book independently from cover to cover. That sense of wow- I really can do this reading thing. Many talented writers disagree with me and this is what makes the world go round but for me, an easy reader should be really easy to read.
In an easy reader, there should be lots of white space on each page. Words should be decodable. And if the words aren’t decodable, there should be extremely strong picture support. There should be repetitive text. Fonts should be big, clear and easy to read. And the story should be fun and appealing.
Maybe this exhaustive list explains why I believe there are very few true easy readers out there except for the mostly dull books published exclusively for schools.
In fact, I believe that Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books are pretty much all that is out there that truly fits every requirement I have.
Pretty clearly, Long has read quite a few Elephant and Piggie books and hey, who can blame the guy. In Up! Tall! And High!, readers follow the conversation, in speech bubbles, between three competitive birds. The book is separated into three super short chapters allowing these early readers to get the chapter book feeling. There are also flaps which lend some extra appeal to a reluctant reader. I see this being one of those perfect books for an older sibling to read to a younger sibling.
So while I love Elephant and Piggie, I sure am glad there are some new birds on the block…