There aren’t many forms of common life experiences that can last throughout our entire lives. But reading a book does last. It’s an adventure that takes us from the youngest age all the way through to our oldest ages. This adventure also involves parents and children together and can create a bond so strong that it lasts forever. Read out loud daily to your children. And, help your child take notice of the world around them by pointing out the written language that surrounds them, such as traffic signs, billboards, even the food labels in your kitchen.

In the next three installments of my review, I’ll share my recommended reading lists of new publications geared for the newest readers in your family. This week, I’ll share my knowledge on how to teach children to read. Next week I’ll list new books for emergent and beginning readers. The following week, I’ll review early and more advanced chapter books.

There are a few basic rules to follow in regard to this list to help your child learn and enjoy reading:

1. Make sure your child knows the alphabet. (There are many great picture books that help teach the letters and you can find these books on my website.)

2. When using emergent readers, look for books that repeat, possibly rhyme and with very few enlarged words in the text.

3. Read through the book first pointing to each word as you read slowly and with expression.

4. Read through again, only this time have your child attempt reading also using their finger to point to each word. (Many things are happening here such as the groupings of letters to make words and the direction of left to right.)

5. When your young reader has difficulty, or stumbles on a word, ask them to sound out the word. If the word is wrong, have them re-read the sentence by putting their word in place of the correct word and ask if it makes sense. This process helps to build comprehension as well as phonics into their reading skills.

6. After they read through the story ask questions regarding what they just read. (Some publishers place questions to ask at the back of the book.)

7. Have your child re-read through the book several more times independently before beginning a new book.

8. Lastly, don’t push too hard to advance the difficulty of a new book. Oftentimes, if the book is just too hard, frustration sets in and the joy leaks out.

Now some basic information about how to choose a leveled beginning book: Every publisher has a different set of standards behind their system. (For instance, Scholastic’s Level 1 has fewer words and is a little easer to read than Houghton Mifflin’s Level 1.) So here is my own assessment of what to look for in emergent readers:

Pre Level 1 – Few repeating and/or rhyming words

Level 1 – Simple sentences with simple stories and short words

Level 2 – Longer sentences, more complete stories and beginning easy paragraphs

Level 3 – New vocabulary words, more challenging stories and reading for information (This is a good level to introduce non-fiction)

Level 4 – Beginning to bridge to chapter books.