Who or What Inspired Your Love of Books?

insp2I have been a reader for as long as I can remember. I have always loved the look, feel, and smell of books. Never mind the way books allow me to learn new things and escape into new worlds and take part in adventures. I was able to read while navigating hallways, no matter how busy they were, and am glad to say that my two elementary school age students are beginning to master that skill as well. I spent countless nights reading well past bed time via flash light, and still stay up way too late reading. How did this love of reading start? For me it was a number of things including seeing the examples of other readers and the easy access to a wide variety of books.

inspire1The library was a second home to me in elementary school. I still remember the stairwell to the children’s department, the cool round window that I would sit in and read while waiting on my mother and brother to pick their books.The library does not look that way now, since it was renovated while I was in junior high, but I am glad to say that I now work in the same building I frequented in my younger days. My favorite chapter books from my elementary school days were the Nancy Drew Mystery series (the original hard covers mind you), the Pern series and anything else by Anne McCaffrey, The Girl with Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, and the Young Wizard series by Diane Duane.

inspire2I was not, and am not, highly coordinated. While I attempted a few sports, singing and reading were the only two activities that I really felt at home doing. Getting lost in a book was much more attractive to me than trying to make it through a practice or game without getting hurt or embarrassing myself. As you might have guessed, I have always been an introvert and was shy as a kid. I found hiding in my books my best defense, and reading helped me do well in school. My favorites in junior high included: A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of the series by Madeleine L’EngleSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and the multiple series by David Eddings.

inspire3Growing up I saw my mother, grandmother, and various aunts and friends passing around bags of books. They would trade full paper grocery bags full of books that they have finished and pass them on to the next person. I thought this was great, and frankly delved into those romance novels, thrillers, and mysteries well before any of them intended me to. Having so many books in my grasp made me much more likely to read than watch television, a pattern I still hold to today. Some of the books I remember most from my high school days include; The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, The God Project by John Saul, the Xanth series and more from Piers Anthony, and the Forgotten Realms series by R.A. Salvatore.

inspI think the combination of family that read, my personality, and the availability of books combined to make me a voracious reader. I have read a little bit of everything, and found something worth while in just about every genre and writing style. I still read children books, young adult books, and adult fiction and nonfiction as much as I can.  Too many books are passed on to the next person, added to the library collection, and/or published every single day. I know I will not get to them all, but it will not stop me from trying. Some of my most recent favorites include: Gail Carrier’s now three steampunk series, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, and the multiple series by Tamora Pierce and Maria V. Snyder.

Who or what got you hooked on reading, or disinterested you from doing so? Do we have any favorites in common, or those that I listed that you hated? Do you have favorites that you remember fondly from your past?

Book Recommendations for Emergent Readers

Do you have a young child in your life that is just starting to ‘get’ reading? Emergent readers are those that have developed an understanding of the alphabet, phonological awareness, and early phonics. They have command of a significant number of high-frequency words, reads in a left-to-right and top-to-bottom progression, may tell the story from memory, may invent text, and are developing a firmer grasp of comprehension strategies and decoding skills. They can recognize fiction and nonfiction, and understand that there are many reasons to read.

Books for these readers should have increasingly more lines of text per page, a more complex sentence structure, less reliance on repetitive pattern and images, as well as more detailed looks at familiar topics. These books are typically Fountas & Pinnell Levels D-J or DRA Levels 6-16.Our library has labeled and cataloged a number of paperback books in levels A through G. However, our hardcover easy readers and higher level books are not leveled in the same way, and it sometimes takes a little extra time to find books that are interesting to your emergent reader and of the correct difficulty to help them continue to enjoy reading and still advance their skills. Here are some recommended books for emergent readers.

1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and more by Bill Martin Jr.

2. Hop On PopOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,  and many more by Dr. Seuss

3. Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka

4. Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

5. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

6. Frog and Toad Are Friends (and the entire Frog and Toad series) by Arnold Lobel

7. Look by Ted Lewin (I Like to Read series)

8. See Me Dig by Paul Meisel (I Like to Read series)

9. Bronzeville Boys and Girls by Gwendolyn Brooks

10. Let’s Go for a Drive! (and the entire Elephant and Piggie series) by Mo Willems

Did you think I could stop there? There are more and more worth while books for readers of all skill levels and ages out there every day. While many recommended books on my list are classics, there are new offerings as well. If the books already suggested have already been devoured, there are plenty more to add to your reading list. Do not forget to comment with any of your favorites that I might have missed! You might also want to check out:

Car Goes Far by Michael Garland, Perros! Perros!/Dogs! Dogs!: A Story in English and Spanish by Ginger Foglesong Gibson,  Please Say Please! Penguin’s Guide to Manners by Margery Cuyler, Eight Animals Play Ball by Susan Middleton Elya,  Froggy’s Best Babysitter (or any Froggy books) by Jonathan London, SuperHero ABC by Bob McLeod, Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas, No, David! by David Shannon, Mr. Putter And Tabby Bake The Cake (or any Mr. Putter books) by Cynthia Rylant, or Henry and Mudge and the Best Day of All (or any Henry and Mudge books)  by Cynthia Rylant.





Guiding Reading What? (What Kind of Reader is my Child, Part Deux)

So, if you read What Kind of Reader is my Child? you will have a  understanding of the general terminology about reading development and where your child might be in the process.  But what about all those crazy level letters and numbers at the end of each definition? Well, here is some of the basic information and resources that can help you get a handle on that part as well. I am going to toss in an extra one, which I know some local schools are assigning to advanced readers.Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 4.49.43 PMWhich systems you need to pay the most attention to will vary by school. Most schools do use the DRA testing system. However I know that Cheshire, Southington, and Wallingford also use the Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Leveling (GRL) system for classroom use. You can use this chart on the Scholastic website to help understand how the levels correspond. You will note that there are even more leveling systems included on the chart, but I am going to focus on the most used systems in our area.

Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Leveling system (GRL) starts with level A, being the easiest, and goes up to Z. These levels are based on benchmark assessments or other systematic observations are used to determine the instructional reading level of each student.  Our library offers a variety of fiction and non fiction books from level A through G labeled and sorted by level for check out. Feel free to browse the collection or help finding books, but if you would like help, please stop by the children’s desk for assistance.

Developmental Reading Assessment system (DRA) also starts with level A for the easiest books, but  switches to numeric levels which run from 1 to 80. A child’s DRA reading level is based on is a standardized reading test.  During the test students read a selection (or selections) and then retell what they have read to the examiner. Most of our area schools use this standardized testing system to help gauge reading skills and comprehension, but many combine the information they get from this system with the GRL system.

A Lexile text measure is based on the semantic and syntactic elements of a text. A Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for emergent readers to above 1600L for advanced readers.  This system tends to be the hardest translate from skill level and rating to book recommendations, at least for me. Most of the focus on these numbers come into play after children are fluent readers. For charts that break down which Lexile ratings are average by grade and further details, I highly recommend exploring their website. The site offers a search tool that allows you to find books based on Lexile level and then limit by age and interests so that you can find reading material for just about any fluent reader.

For more information on the stages of reading development and encouraging reading check out: Early Literacy by Joan Brooks McLane, Gillian Dowley McNamee, Straight Talk about Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats,  Matching Books to Readers: Using Leveled Books in Guided Reading, K-3 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (reference book that cannot leave the library), The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller, Games With Books: 28 of the Best Children’s Books and How to Use Them to Help your Child Learn  by Peggy Kaye, Raising a Reader: Make Your Child a Reader for Life by Paul Kropp, and The Between the Lions Book for Parents: Everything you Need to Know to Help your Child Learn to Read by Linda K. Rath and Louise Kennedy.