Earlier this week I had a parent ask for a list of books for their children to read over the summer. Both of the children are in early elementary grades and need some help with their reading skills.
I handled the request by showing her the beginning readers, which at our library are suggested for children up to third grade, and showing her the differences between and within levels. However, as I showed her this collection, I remarked several times that the key is for them to read what they enjoy. If they enjoy reading, their skills will naturally improve.
This takes me to another, similar topic. Many adults will not let children read books that are below their reading ability levels. This is a disservice to the child. If a child wants to occasionally read a book that is more suited to the reading level of someone younger, she should. It helps to keep reading enjoyable, and fosters a sense of accomplishment.
And…to continue along the theme of reading for enjoyment, there is also the debate surrounding graphic novels, manga, comic books and other illustrated reading materials. These materials come in all age ranges and reading levels, from wordless wonders such as Owly to adult fare such as Blankets. They are even beginning to win the “big” awards, such as the Printz Medal (American Born Chinese) and the Geisel Medal (Benny and Penny and the Big No-No). Graphic novels are perfect for those reluctant or struggling readers. The illustrations give important context clues, helping to read the story while still having a higher interest or maturity level than traditional picture stories.
While the parent I spoke to today was looking for books for her younger children, the same basic principles apply regardless of the reader’s age. Encourage them to read for enjoyment and their reading skills will continue to grow.