I love sharing book ideas for my learners with their caregivers! Especially for leisure reading! Practicing the skills regularly is essential to reading proficiency and continued success. Summer in particular is a critical time to take advantage of choice reading to practice skills and nurture a love of text.
Some Book Ideas from My Library
To share some favorites from my collection and experience with students, my Instagram page ft a series of reels with various book ideas – please have a look in case there is anything there that might pique the interest of your reader. Add your ideas to the post too!
These are the categories to fit different types of interests:
- Friendly & Fun Phonics
- Reluctant Readers – Science Fiction & Gamer Fans
- Nonfiction Animal Books
- Books Enjoyed Again & Again
- Nonfiction Picture Books
Say Yes to All the Books – A Note About “Reading Levels”
While authentic independent reading with accurate decoding is important, I always say yes to any book being right for a reader if the reader may have a positive experience with written text. I recommend helping curious emerging readers find ways to access reading and follow their curiosity, intellect, and preference. Even if they are carrying it around, flipping through just glancing out of order, this is a positive experience with a book. This doesn’t not replace the work with accurate decoding and scaffolding comprehension, it is just that there are many ways to enjoy a book. Building an identity as a reader and a happy connection to books is vital.
For the record – here are some guidelines about levels. Largely reading levels are described by the parameters below – books can be read at one’s:
- independent level, generally with 98% decoding accuracy
- instructional level – about 90-95% decoding accuracy
- frustration level – anything less than 90%
These are helpful guidelines – however, the terms can be misleading and limiting. Sometimes my students still want to try to a book even if it’s at their frustration level – and I am not going to say no to their inclination toward any book! No book is too easy, or too hard. Maybe they want to read the same book over and over – great! Maybe a book is beyond them, but they want to explore it anyway – also great. When possible, we can also suggest ways to help emerging readers access the content in a way that works for them.
Strategies to Sustain a Reading Habit and Give Access
Reading is about accessing information. Decoding is reading from texts with letters. Here are some approaches for supporting access to all written materials:
- “Ear-reading” – is a valid and useful means to access information. Audiobooks are a valuable tool to access content at a level that matches a learner’s curiosity and intellect. Practicing ear-reading will help learners develop auditory skills, memory, and vocabulary, as well as acquire knowledge – hopefully building speed so they can even increase the speed. Count this as reading. Pair it with visual text when possible.
- Co-Reading – Reading together where readers arrange a system for sharing in the experience, allowing the learner to guide how they want to participate.
- Take Over Reading – Often my readers can do more and are more willing when they aren’t thinking about the task of reading, but are focused on their curiosity. I try to read enough to engage them in the book, and then I slow down my pace – often they take over without thinking about it. It may ebb and flow, but it’s worth a go, and then I catch them reading so they realize the success they are having.
- Non-sequential and Flip Throughs – Learners may want to browse a book in non-linear ways. Allow them to follow their curiosity and explore.
- Titles, Headings and Captions – Sometimes if big paragraphs overwhelm, readers can still be willing to handle the smaller bits with more white space or connected to images.
- Preview – Pull out words and phrases prior to preview, maybe decode and break down words on a white board or post-it – and then they can find them in the text while reading.
Beyond Books – All Reading is Reading
- Screen Reading – Many of my learners enjoy videos and games on screens. Turn on subtitles whenever possible to visually expose them to the text as they listen. Sometimes we pause to read the screen or re-read what we heard. Many are motivated to read when necessary in their games.
- Non-Book Reading – Recipes, directions, lists, notes, letters, emails, texts – it’s all reading! Have the emerging readers jump in as much as possible – and acknowledge them as readers.
- Environmental Reading – Reading signs while driving, markers on paths or walks, menus at the restaurant.
Any experience with text is a great opportunity to engage the reading brain and sustain skills.
Keep it Regular
Try to read with high frequency to keep building a consistent habit. This might involve:
- Motivation with rewards
- Family Read time
- Reduce the Time demand – 30 minutes too much? Work it down to a doable duration. 10 minutes every few days is better than a battle over 30 minutes once a week.
- Visual Tracking – drop a dime in a jar each time you “catch” them reading, color in a dot on a chart, use stickers on the calendar, tally marks on a white board – allow them to see their consistency.
- Notice and name it to reinforce identity – “Wow – what a super reader you are!”
Seek Other Experts
We reading specialists and educational therapists are of course here for you! You might also get great book ideas from other experts who think about books all the time.
- Librarians – A good librarian will often walk about the library with your emerging reader to find them some ‘just right’ options – often until their arms can’t hold all the books. With a library card, it’s low commitment to try a bag full of books.
- Bookstores – Some bookstores have wonderful employees who can’t wait to help you check out some exciting choices both old and new. Ask them for help, and find some gems.
- Online bookstore databases – Using a book that a reader already likes, I then look which other titles the database suggests and poke around at reviews and summaries. You can also search by age or topic.
- Social Media – I follow a lot of reading enthusiasts and experts who share about books – search some hashtags and see if you find some inspiration.
Above all, model reading by reading in front of your kids and have fun!