May 5, 2011

books for emergent readers can be boring

As most of you would know my son is in his first year of school this year.  This has meant the arrival of homework in our house.  Each week he brings home two books in his school reader for us to read together.   

The books are designed for emergent readers.  They have only one or two sentences per page, a limited vocabulary and illustrations to help the reader predict what the text will say. 

When reading these books parents are encouraged to follow the words with their finger (or have their child do that) and encourage ‘reading’ from memory.  

My son was initially very keen to for us to do this shared reading. But as the weeks went on he started to find the books a bit repetitive and the stories unexciting and he stopped focussing on the words as he ‘read’ the story he remembered. 

What did I do to encourage him to once again focus on the text in the book?

We created the magic reading pointer.  This is a pointer that he can use to point to each word as he reads and that ‘helps him read’.  And the magic pointer made shared school reading fun again.  Suddenly, my son was seeing words he already knew, words that looked similar, words everywhere.  Who knew that words were so interesting!

We use a decorated (a bit of glitter did the trick) chopstick as our pointer, but any stick will do.  I think some ribbons or feathers on the end of the stick would make a wonderful decoration.  But if you need something really special to get your child interested perhaps you could try a laser pointer.

Having a magic pointer is so much more exciting than pointing to the words with your finger!


Marissa Treichel said...

Great idea. My daughter starts school next year but I had a peek at the books when I visited their school - the dry writing style of the 'emergent readers' was disheartening. I love Mem Fox's "Reading Magic", which is all about the learning power of....FUN!

CatWay said...

I've read Mem Fox's Reading Magic, which I very much enjoyed.
I do agree that the emergent readers can have quite uninteresting stories. But books that interest my son seem to have too many words for him to focus on reading the words.

Merry said...

I agree, those books can be boring. I think home educating has saved us from the worst of this as we tend to move on quickly and aren't compelled to squeeze each book to death!

Julia Deering said...

I agree about the dodgy reading scheme books. My kids' school uses a range of schemes - some good,some bad,some very ugly. But my aunt (a now retired A.M.A.Z.I.N.G Early Years teacher) told me that what works with so many children is to fake-up the excitement and anticipation of those simple/repetitive stories and characters. And she urged parents to do the same ie if we show our children we think the books are dull, they'll pick up on that and their excitement of being an emergent reader could well vanish. I try this with my children and so far so good. They haven't lost the spark of a new reader and we whizz through those 'special' books from school. Might try the magic pointer too though!