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Getting Kids to Read

Reading for pleasure: Some tips

Encouraging children to read for pleasure is something teachers and parents often struggle with. It’s not just about getting them to pick up a book. It’s getting them to engage, and to be motivated to seek out books on their own. We want them to go beyond just pushing through their lessons, and to read at home for the joy of it.

reading level

The first influence in learning to love reading is, of course, the home environment. When a child grows up in a home where reading is valued, and she can see adults reading for pleasure and information, the likelihood that she herself will develop a love of reading is greatly increased. Being read to is also critically important to developing a love for reading. It’s important for children to appreciate a good story. This is supported by being read to, choosing the stories that one is naturally drawn to, and even reading stories they have written themselves.

In reading for pleasure, kids should have a choice about what they read. Introduce them to a wide variety of styles, genres, and mediums, and allow them to discover the delight of reading an array of reading materials. Comic books, graphic novels, ebooks, short stories, and magazine articles are all acceptable choices of reading material. In addition, a relaxed atmosphere and a positive attitude about reading goes a long way toward supporting reading for pleasure.

Don’t worry too much about the reading level of the books they are choosing. Sometimes it’s easier to read for pleasure when you don’t have to work so hard to understand what you are reading. Sometimes kids will pick up books that are above their reading level if they are highly interested in the topic. It can also be an… Continue reading

In thinking about the Paxton Hood quote, “Be as careful of the books you read as the company you keep…”, I am reminded how important it is to learn about friends, companions, companionship, and family.

Leveled Reader has selected several books on these important subjects.  Not only are they engaging and introduce the subject in an intriguing and varied milieu, but they are leveled for your convenience so you have a better idea of which books would be appropriate to challenge your young reader–and capture their attention and curiosity.

The book, Zelda and Ivy and the Boy Next Door, takes a wry and honest look at the relationships between friends. [Age Level:  5-9 years.  Grade Level:  1st-2nd, 2nd-3rd.  Leveled Group:  L-M.]

For friends of a different sort, the book Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends, a True Story, is an amazing story of Jim and his two dogs and what happens when Jim falls through the ice on the frozen lake.  [Age Level:  5-7.  Grade Level:  K-1. Leveled Group:  E-F.]

The True Story of Owen and Mzee is a story about a young hippopotamus and an old giant tortoise after the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami.   [Age Level:  5-7.  Grade Level:  K-1. Leveled Group:  G-H-I.]

Or how about Henry and Mudge and the Family Trees?  This is a story of best friends—Henry and his 180-pound dog—who are going to their first family reunion.  [Age Level:  6-8.  Grade Level:  1-2.  Leveled Group:  J-K.]

Or you can choose from the “Friendship” or “Families” subjects yourself by exploring Shop by Subject and exploring the wide variety of popular literature Leveled Reader’s team of educators and other… Continue reading

We know reading sets the stage for success.  And becoming a reader really starts soon after birth.  If youth can read easily and understand what they are reading by third grade, they can more easily take advantage of the learning opportunities in subsequent grades and beyond.

Before school life begins, youth are hearing the spoken word, then begin to understand the written word when being read to and seeing others reading—this is the beginning.  The beginning of forming a habit that will have such great benefit—and provide endless opportunities.

We have already identified some tips to start forming an appreciation for reading, to improve the creative thinking process, to widen the young reader’s world to infinite possibilities.  Some of those tips include setting aside time every day to read.  Here are some more tips to start forming that habit of reading at an early age—even before school life begins.

Try to incorporate reading activities into the daily routine by:

  • Keep various reading materials around your home.
  • Let your child see you read—and bring books with you when you go somewhere…reading while waiting in line or for an elevator is a great use of time.
  • Read with your children.  Point to the words, explain the pictures.  Let them turn pages, make up stories, read to you even when they can’t yet read, talk about the story, ask what comes next.
  • Building off your child’s interests, then suggesting related articles and books.
  • Reward your child with books and other reading material.
  • If you are planning a trip, design fun activities that include reading to learn about the destination.
  • After watching a show, video, or movie, introduce a book on the subject.

Lily has lots of preschool books selected at Leveled Reader.  If your child… Continue reading

Whether your relationship to the youth in your life is one of teacher, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or someone else special, part of what you do can be considered coaching.

As a coach, there are a few qualities that lead to success.  Things like patience, fairness, commitment, leading by example, willingness to learn, keeping everyone involved, making it fun, and encouragement.

You can apply these good coach qualities to reading, in whatever reading technique you are using:  reading aloud to the child, reading aloud in unison, having the child read the same thing back to you, helping the child while he or she is reading, and having the child read independently.  (There are specific things you can do during and after reading, too.  Another time we can touch on some of those tips.)

Coaching is important, but so is selecting the book that is just challenging enough; books should be just beyond the child’s reading ability range, but not enough so reading it is discouraging or overly frustrating.  That’s where leveled books help.  These are books that experts have selected according to criteria such as reading scores.  For a handy table and full description of the leveling criteria used by LILY at Leveled Reader, go to Leveled Reading Guide.  Once you find what level your child is at, Leveled Reader can help you select those books to enhance your child’s reading program.

And what is most important?  To set aside those few minutes every day to read.  Whether you are the teacher, parent, grandparent or other relative or special person, your child will remember that extra effort you made providing those books that were just challenging enough and coaching them with their reading.

Lily says “Way to go coach!… Continue reading

Not too long ago, a study was published confirming “happiness spreads readily through social networks of family members, friends and neighbors.”  Further, it described how a person’s emotional state depended not only on actions and choices made, but also on actions and choices other people made—even persons unknown.  People who are happy tend to live longer.  In essence, the study “concluded happiness is like a contagious disease.”  Unfortunately, other studies concluded the same for obesity and smoking:  they, too, spread among groups of friends and relatives.  An interesting finding was that happiness was more contagious face-to-face—not via the Internet or cell phone.  The study postulated the reason was that “happy people spread their good fortune directly by being generous with time and money,” enhancing social bonds so “successful groups” were formed.

Why write about happiness being like a contagious disease?  Well, it is a wonderful notion to consider.  We all want to be happy.  But, this is also an example of the benefits of reading.  Seeing others around you read, will encourage you to read.  Readers spread their knowledge gained from reading, that creates an environment of creative thinking, and, there you go:  a chain reaction of the most positive kind, enhancing social bonds and potentially even society.  To me, this potential is exciting!

Leveled Reader’s team of professionals and experts have selected books to stimulate young minds to encourage reading in such a way that it enhances their current reading program in an easy, yet challenging and satisfying way.  Let Lily help you not only find the book to start your young reader on the road to success within their family and community, but also find some books on being happy, too.

Start the… Continue reading

We all want the best for the youth in our lives.  Developing skills that lead to a child having the best advantages to make the most of their talents, skills, and dreams must be started at a young age.  Just like walking – skills were learned incrementally and practiced to the point where walking was easy and, from there, we could run if we chose.

The time to lay the foundation for success is now.  To get started, here are some key habits:

  • Read to your child.  Not only can you set aside 15-20 minutes every evening to read out loud, but you can read out loud all of the things you are reading throughout the day:  newspaper or internet articles, recipes, advertisements, signs, emails, instructions . . .
  • Point out objects and name them out loud as you go about your day with your child.
  • Have your child tell you a story and later read out loud to you.
  • Let your child ask questions about, or add to, the story.
  • Decrease television time.
  • Provide a variety of books for your child to explore independently in the home—or at the library.
  • Set aside a quiet time for independent reading.
  • Ask about what they are reading in class.

When you engage in the above, you are building listening, language and communication skills; increasing attention span, comprehension, vocabulary, proper grammatical structure, curiosity, and creative thinking skills; and expanding exposure to new words, experiences and knowledge.  Armed with reading and language skills and all that comes with it, school assignments (and later work assignments) become easier and the ability of confident and creative self expression is enhanced.  And the added plus?  Bonding.

Start laying the foundation today.  Let Leveled Reader help you select those… Continue reading

In thinking about the Paxton Hood quote, “Be as careful of the books you read as the company you keep…”, I am reminded how important it is to learn about friends, companions, companionship, and family.

Leveled Reader has selected several books on these important subjects.  Not only are they engaging and introduce the subject in an intriguing and varied milieu, but they are leveled for your convenience so you have a better idea of which books would be appropriate to challenge your young reader–and capture their attention and curiosity.

The book, Zelda and Ivy and the Boy Next Door, takes a wry and honest look at the relationships between friends. [Age Level:  5-9 years.  Grade Level:  1st-2nd, 2nd-3rd.  Leveled Group:  L-M.]

For friends of a different sort, the book Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends, a True Story, is an amazing story of Jim and his two dogs and what happens when Jim falls through the ice on the frozen lake.  [Age Level:  5-7.  Grade Level:  K-1. Leveled Group:  E-F.]

The True Story of Owen and Mzee is a story about a young hippopotamus and an old giant tortoise after the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami.   [Age Level:  5-7.  Grade Level:  K-1. Leveled Group:  G-H-I.]

Or how about Henry and Mudge and the Family Trees?  This is a story of best friends—Henry and his 180-pound dog—who are going to their first family reunion.  [Age Level:  6-8.  Grade Level:  1-2.  Leveled Group:  J-K.]

Or you can choose from the “Friendship” or “Families” subjects yourself by exploring Shop by Subject and exploring the wide variety of popular literature Leveled Reader’s team of educators and other… Continue reading

We all know the curiosity of a child.  So many successful men, like Bill Gates, stress how important creative thinking is and how curiosity is a part of being a creative thinker.  In an article on About.com, Bill Gates talked about how to promote creative thinking and innovation.  Among his tips were “Read a non-fiction book every week, read …. read with pen and notebook in hand; jot down any idea that comes into your consciousness.”

Leveled Reader has an entire section of non-fiction books for all ages and reading ability.  One book is Amazing Creations.  This is such an engaging book.  With its graphic illustrations and photographs as well as a high-interest topic, the child’s attention is captured from the first to the last page. It is for the 5-7 year old, grades K-1 (Leveled Group:  G-H-I) – perfect for children transitioning from early readers to more challenging storylines. The non-fiction format also makes this a valuable resource to have on your shelf.

There are so many other non-fiction books for children to choose from. With many already leveled and ready to enhance your child’s reading program.  Choose from books about American frontier heroes, how to be a medieval knight, ocean creatures, bugs, horses and much more.

Helping the child in your life retain that curiosity will be helping them develop the skill of creative thinking – a key to greater success and happiness.

“If we encounter a man of great intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Recently, the USA Today newspaper printed pro and con editorials on rating teachers according to student test scores. As a result, letters to the editor have appeared. There is agreement with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), that teachers need to be well-prepared. But, there are other influences affecting teacher competence: resources, policies, class size, community, economics and population to name a few.

In one letter, an ex-teacher from Missouri states, “Every working day, teachers look to inspire students to do their best. Keeping that student motivation at a high level is very challenging.” With school district budgets shrinking, classroom sizes increasing, and teacher lay offs ever present, we feel that the teacher’s original goal remains to inspire and motivate our youth to become productive participants of society.

We know that teachers are thinking outside the box to achieve that goal. Streamlining curriculums, avoiding any duplication—working more efficiently and effectively, is the name of the game. Working as a community, in collaboration with parents and other agencies who can contribute toward that goal is one of the ways to think outside the box.

As we have expressed in previous blogs, it is our belief that literacy is key to any child’s success. Helping teachers and parents find ways to economically and efficiently encourage literacy is our contribution to the end goal. If children are literate, their scores will be higher. If teachers have the support they need from the community, the kids will be more interested in learning and the teacher’s dreams can remain the focus instead of the politics of education.

Exposing children to reading, getting them interested in reading, is a step in the right direction. It is true, the Leveled Reader staff can’t spend twenty minutes a day reading to the child or… Continue reading

Don’t let “spring fever” make your child lose interest in books. Literacy is not a seasonal activity. Show the kids you care about how to keep spring in their hearts all year long with stories that reflect this great time of year.

When I think of Spring, cool breezes on sunny days come to mind. And wild flowers along the road, lambs, calves, foals: baby animals. There is a feeling of wonderment.

I think of how we, as teachers and parents, can share some of that wonderment with the children who can’t get out to see those baby animals and all the newness happening…and that brings me to books. There are some lovely books available at Leveled Reader.

One look at the full-color, bright cheery photographs in Petting Zoo and the reader will feel like they are on the farm! And, better still, they will be motivated to read more with this fun book. Petting Zoo is great for readers just starting out and yet high interest enough for readers with a little experience. The recommended grade level is pre-school to first grade, leveled group A-B, and age level 4-6 years.

Remember, if you aren’t sure what level your child might be at, there is a handy chart to guide you in your selection of books to supplement the school curriculum.

As I think about, the book About the Seasons We Both Read, is a wonderful book, too. This is a captivating non-fiction story about changes in weather and the habits of animals during the seasons. It is filled with fun facts, a great storyline and intriguing pictures. The recommended grade level is K-1, leveled group E-F, and age level 5-7 years.

With Spring, we tend to want to stay outdoors more, but remember that reading is an… Continue reading

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