Sam reads out loud to me every day. I call this subject, “reading skills” because the purpose is for Sam to practice all the technical stuff like sounding out words, understanding how to read punctuation, etc. I have trouble finding books that are at the right level that she is willing to read. The best are still the Flyleaf Publishing books which I’m sure I’ve recommended before. But she will be done with those soon, and they are really too easy for her already. Sometimes non-fiction works. She loves the series of “Me” books by Joan Sweeney, and they were a good challenge for her reading-wise, for a while. I love those books for their content, though. They’re not all perfect, but they all have one thing in common: they shuttle between the more concrete and the more abstract. Me on the Map spirals between a map of the girl’s room and a map of the whole world and back again. On the way out, she says, “this is me in my room, this is my house on the map of my street, this is my town on the map of my state,” etc., and then on the way back she says, “Here’s how I find my special place on the map…first I look at the map of the world and find my country…and in my house I find my room,” etc. I also particularly like “Me Counting Time.” But anyway, she has read them all and they are too easy now. But if the book looks “too long” or doesn’t have pictures or the first few words look unfamiliar, Sam has it in her head that she can’t read it or it is too hard or that it is a “mommy book.” She doesn’t realize it, but she can read way beyond the things that she is picking up. I don’t know how to change that except to just keep putting books in front of her.
We have a great book-list for literature, which I’ve compiled from many sources. All I do right now is read out loud and ask a few questions at the end. Some books only take one sitting, but some take weeks (I read for about 20-30 minutes per sitting). I’m going to have to create more structure for this at some point, but right now it’s okay. I recently skimmed Deconstructing Penguins as a guide for me to teach literature, and it seems okay but all I can take from it now is that Sam is not ready for that level of analysis. Usually, all I ask her is what her favorite part of the story was, or I might ask her some questions about why she thinks a character did this or that. The latest book I read to her was D’Aulaires’ Norse Myths, which we both loved. I thought it would be hard for her to follow with so many characters and unfamiliar names, but she seemed to follow most of the stories. I think it helped a great deal that the illustrations in that book actually served to illustrate the story. All the details in the text could be found in the pictures, and Sam and I both delighted in pouring over the details.
Sam does not read silently on her own much yet. She might read something in the car to pass the time, but she has not yet picked up a book that has engrossed her enough so that she’d read it without me. I have no doubt that this will happen, though, so again, I just keep leaving interesting books everywhere!
I help Sam keep a list of all the books she’s read, and I include the ones I read out loud to her.
We’ve also gotten a lot of duds from the library. The librarian has not been much help at all. Amelia Bedelia is just awful, and I didn’t like the Beverley Cleary books we’ve read so far – the kids are so mean to each other.
I find that when we are reading a great book for literature, the rest of the school day is fun and exciting, but when we have a so-so story going on, all else is kind of dim.