5 Dollars

My life as an at-home momma of 3 amazing kids...it's kind of like shoveling snow in a blizzard.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Teaching Our Children to Read

We've always valued reading to our kids so much. Even when Keithen, our oldest, was a baby we read to him. As he grew, he loved nothing more than sitting with a grown up and listening to stories. When he was 2 years old and Kaylee was born, I always kept a basket of books close to my nursing spot. Kaylee would nurse and Keithen and I would read story after story.

Keithen had such a strong desire to learn to read early on. He had figured out that all those words on the page would unlock the world for him. He'd be able to read on his own and learn anything he wanted. He could read to his sisters. He could play more computer games without help. All he had to do was crack the code.

Because he was so highly motivated to learn to read, I started working with him early. By the time he was four years old, he had read the first few Bob Books. This was a huge source of pride for him. Ruby was born just a week after Keithen turned 4 years old. He had set a goal of being able to read to her when she was born. With me as his teacher, he next sped through all 5 sets of Bob Books and was beginning to read Clifford books and Dr. Seuss books on his own.

For those of you who have younger kids and haven't experienced it yet, let me just tell you how magical it is to watch your kids putting it all together and really beginning to "get" reading. It's amazing to see the light bulb go on in their heads and hear them read out loud on their own. And for me, it was incredibly rewarding to know that his love of books and ability to crack that code was something that I had helped to give him.

At night, he would lay in bed and you'd hear him back there sounding things out and trying to crack the code on his own. It was almost impossible to get him to put his books down and pretty common to go find that he had finally nodded off with his nose in a book.

By just past his 5th birthday he was already reading at about a first grade level. That summer he finished the public library's summer reading program and earned the most points possible.

In Kindergarten, I think the fall book fair was one of the highlights of his year. Eventually, the librarian arranged for him to be able to check out materials from the section of the library that was reserved for older students. He was already reading chapter books such as The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. By the time he finished Kindergarten he was reading at around a 3rd grade level.

Now, half-way through first grade, his most current reading assessment has put him at about 5th grade level books. At home, he's tackling The Series of Unfortunate Events books, which are about a 6th grade level book. I'm beginning to wonder how we are going to keep him in reading material that is interesting and reading level appropriate while still being age appropriate subject-wise.

Reading was such a snap for Keithen. I'm trying to build a foundation for Kaylee and Ruby now before they reach school-age. It's interesting to see how differently each child learns. Kaylee has had all the letters and their sounds for about a year now. (She'll be 5 in March.) She's just started putting some words together in the past couple of months. We are beginning to work through the first box of Bob Books together now. She's a whole year behind where Keithen was in reading at this age. Sometimes I have to remind myself that she is actually at or maybe a little above where her peers are right now.

Some of my favorite reading related links that I have used in teaching my kids to read -

Starfall - (lots of great online activities)

Accelerated Reader Quiz List - (lists by title, author and reading level)

Leveled Book Lists - (lists by grade level, title and author)

Portland Public Schools Leveled Book Lists - (includes a search engine - lists by title, author, reading recovery level and grade level)

Reading Level Assessment - (more of a focus on decoding words - talks about how to find reading levels on the back of paperback books)

Dolch Kit - (good link for working on Dolch site words)

Word Families - (37 most common phonograms and some of the 500 words they make up)


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