Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to select books for your reader continues...

Happy Earth Day!

Today we continue looking at a book and deciding what to teach with it and whether or not it is a good fit for our reader.

I forgot to say yesterday, that when I pick books, I am going with some goals in mind. It might be a particular child in my class, or children. In that case, I need to know their reading levels, what I want to work with them on, and their interests and resistances. Knowing what you need to do will help you focus and find those books which provide the opportunities to talk. If I need to work on fluency, I will look for a book with lots of dialogue, for example. If I need to work on vocabulary, I will look for a book that is a bit challenging in that area, but will provide support to figure out the words (picture books are great for that). If I don't have a child/children in mind, I am usually picking books for my classroom library -- in which case I don't have to worry about level as much, because there is a range in my class. I do, however, look for GOOD WRITING and things that will entice them. Finally, sometimes I am just buying to satisfy my buying urge. Some women it's shoes -- if you looked in my closet, you would realize that isn't my splurge - I could actually use an updated pair or two, or three... Anyway, if it is splurge buying, I look for new and fun books to add to the collection...

So know who it is you are buying for.

Mr. Putter was selected for a struggling reader in second grade. She mainly has fluency problems, but that stems from some trouble sounding out new words...and that also inhibits her comprehension of the story.

I like Mr. Putter because it has chapters -- Five short ones in this book -- so you can tell your reader they are doing great to be reading CHAPTER BOOKS. That is a huge hang up for some kids. They see other kids reading harder books, so they will pick books that are too hard for themselves. Remember the most important match is the JUST RIGHT BOOK. (Check out earlier blogs for that explanation).

As I stand in the aisle at Barnes and Noble, I read the first page: It was April. Mr. Putter and Tabby were full of April energy. -- Nice short sentences, months...words they will recognize, but already an opportunity to ask them what "April energy" is...see? there is depth to these "easy" books -- don't miss it!

I glance through the remaining pages, evaluating the illustrations - enough support? what details can they see in the pictures? how do they tell the story? what do they focus on? if a child just looked through the pictures, what story would they get?

Then I look at the writing - what size is the font? Where are the words placed on the page? At the top always? Bottom? Side? I like Mr. Putter because it varies around the pictures. How many sentences are together at once? How long are the sentences? Are they phrases? Is there dialogue? Match your reader...

Another thing I look at is the punctuation and sentence variety. For young readers, I want more predictability -- words that occur more than once. As they grow, I want it to change -- I want different words, maybe even multiple meaning words.

And finally, I read it. Do I laugh? What makes me laugh? Why? Do I have a connection to my life? How? Do I question? What? Do I wonder? Why do I wonder about that part?

If I have those thoughts, so will they -- or, those are the things we need to teach them to wonder, connect, and question.

So - go to your child's room and pick up a recent it through the paces and see what comes into your head. You will be surprised at what great ideas you will have about reading this with your child!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the book requests.

    Caleb's report about his day: "Today was a great day! I discovered that I like to read!" I think he was more surprised than I was.