Last week, I started a new series called Book of the Week. After a question I received a few days ago, I decided my book this week is actually going to be a list of early chapter books.
I received an e-mail from a friend asking for book suggestions. Her younger daughter is in Katherine’s grade and loves books and stories. Currently, though her reading level at school is keeping her in advanced early readers as opposed to chapter books. My friend and I talked about how hard it is to snuggle in and get lost in an early reader. It’s just not going to happen. My advice to her is the same that I have followed with Katherine. Read harder books at home.
Now obviously, all readers are different but I will often encourage my girls to read above their ‘level’ when they are at home. I completely support leveling at school as it is crucial for building decoding and reading comprehension skills. If children read tough books when learning these skills they are going to have a very hard time when the text gets more complex. That said, I believe that reading at home should be fun. For years, Katherine has watched us all reading chapter books, anxiously awaiting the time she can join us. A few month ago, I presented her with a few different early chapter books to see what would happen. She was thrilled and sat on the couch for ages, reading and reading and reading. The books are a bit above her level. She will occasionally ask me what a word means. I will occasionally ask her to give me a summary of what is happening just to make sure she is understanding. If reading above her level means that Katherine misses some of the more complex pieces of a book at home, I’m ok with that. It has her reading a lot and to me, at this stage, that is what matters.
What I’ve also learned is that she is often more than capable of reading a bit above her level if she is reading a series with characters and settings she knows. It was only when I encouraged her to make this leap, that she truly began reading at home. There are a few series that she is really enjoying right now. They are all similar in design which at this level can be more important than plot. Big font, lots of white space and a fair number of pictures. All of these factors are really important when making the jump to early chapter books.
Katherine’s current favorites are: