Welcome one and all to this month’s celebration of early literacy, easy readers and short chapter books! The I Can Read carnival is all about sharing finds, approaches, successes and more when it comes to books aimed at those just beginning to read for themselves, or those consolidating their reading skills.
If you’ve a review, commentary, or an experience you want to share on this topic, please leave a comment on this post including a link to your piece and I’ll add you to the carnival. The carnival will remain open until the evening of Sunday 12th December so if you haven’t got a blog post all ready to submit you’ve a few days to write one to be included. Infact we’re happy to accept posts up to a year old – so really there’s every reason to join in
As to my contribution to the carnival I thought it was high time I wrote about the first books M read herself, how we chose them and what we learned in the process about books for those just beginning to read for themselves.
M started learning to read (in a formal manner) almost exactly a year ago. Of course I wanted to support her in anyway I could, and that included finding some books for her to read to me at home, some earliest of early readers. I wanted books that:
were written in British English (lots of reviews out there in the blogosphere don’t mention which sort of English books are written in and I didn’t want to have to explain that “color” is an ok spelling in the US but not one that M’s teachers would accept, or to try to capture her attention with cultural references which had no meaning to her – yellow buses and baseball for instance). Normally I’m all for cultural cross-fertilization, infact I seek it out, but this is one instance where I felt it wasn’t appropriate.
had fantastic illustrations – I knew the text would invariably be simple, and therefore less likely to tell a really engaging tale, so I wanted to make sure the illustrations at least would make M want to re-read each book.
weren’t dull, and preferably made us both laugh. Goes without saying, really, but I wanted books that were enjoyable rather than just worthy.
formed part of a graded collection, not just a one off but something with variety and progression from easy to more challenging reading.
anddidn’t cost the earth – it’s one thing spending £5-£10 on a utterly gorgeous book that both the girls and I will want to linger over and read again and again, but it’s another thing to spend that sort of money on a book that may only be read 3 or 4 times at most.
These scored on every front and I can’t recommend them highly enough as a very first starting point for children reading themselves.
Colin McNaughton is an illustrator we already loved, and his work in this series is full of detail and humour. The text, starting with short phrases rather than sentences in the earliest books, is witty, imaginative and often rhymes (the strong rhythm and clues from the rhymes as to how sentence final words were to be pronounced helped M to gain confidence reading).
There are 16 books in the Red Nose Readers series providing exactly the graded progression I wanted – the last few in the collection contain fully fledges short stories with one or two longer sentences on each page.
Another aspect of having an entire collection was that M loved being able to see how far she had progressed – like children everywhere who love to collect things, she was thrilled to put these books one by one on her shelf and to see her own library gradually build itself.
The books themselves are a perfect size for little readers – they are about 13cmx17cm – smaller than a typical adult paperback or ladybird book and so absolutely perfect for young hands to hold. They’re paperback and light – making it very easy for M to hold the book herself whilst she read, something that is very important for her.
As to cost, the books retail at £2.99 each which would work out rather expensive for the whole series, but I was able to buy the entire collection for £20 – look out for them on ebay (here’s a set currently for sale), The Book People or Redhouse, and of course at your library.
What did you look for when choosing the first books for your kids to read themselves? Or, if you’ve a child who’ll be starting to read soon, what would help you to know when it comes to choosing their first early readers?