If you are a kindergarten teacher or parent, you might be wondering what are the best books for your young readers. While there are thousands of children's books marketed as early readers, they aren't all designed for kids just learning to read.
When selecting books for your school or home library, there are a few things to keep in mind.
What is the purpose of the book you are choosing?
- for the pure enjoyment of looking at a book
- to help young children develop their reading skills
If the answer is A, choose whatever picture books catch your eye and look fun and interesting! But if the answer is B, you'll want to look for certain things.
The best early reader books have several key features that are designed to support beginning readers as they develop their literacy skills.
Here are some important features to consider:
Simple and Predictable Text:
The text in many emergent readers have short sentences with mostly one-syllable words and very few two-syllable words. These simple sentences are predictable, with repetitive patterns or sentence structures that allow children to anticipate and predict the words. This is great for very new readers.
However, you'll want to move toward decodable texts (see below) that let students practice their actual reading skills.
Good easy readers use a lot of repetition to reinforce key words, phrases, or sentence structures. They limit the number of new words introduced in the text and typically focus on a specific set of sight words that new readers are learning.
Repetition builds confidence and familiarity with the text. It allows children to practice and reinforce their reading skills and will help kids build reading fluency
Phonics and Decoding Skills:
Look for decodable books that incorporate kindergarten-level phonics skills, such as CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant) or simple word families with short vowels. This helps children build their knowledge of letter-sound correspondence and practice decoding strategies.
Appropriate Font Style and Size:
When choosing emergent reader books, think clear, big text! The font should be large with good spacing between words and lines to create easy-to-read text. This makes it more accessible for little readers who are still developing their visual tracking skills and letter recognition.
Illustrations play a crucial role in easy reader books. The pictures should be engaging, relevant to the text, and provide visual support to help students determine word meaning.
Pictures can also help children make connections between the text and the real world.
Engaging and Interesting Content:
The content of emergent reader books should be interesting to young readers. Topics that are relevant to their lives or of high interest to their age group help motivate children to read and explore books further.
Supportive Reading Aids:
Some first readers include visual aids like finger tracking dots or color-coded text to help children follow along as they read. This builds one-to-one correspondence which is the ability to match written word to spoken word while reading.
This isn't a feature you will see in a lot of books, but it a great thing if you can find it!
Durability and Size:
Good kindergarten books should be durable and easy to handle. Sturdy pages that won't tear easily and a size suitable for small hands are important. These things will ensure the books can withstand repeated use and manipulation.
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