Guest Author - Jeanne Rutgers
Summer is the perfect time for the struggling reader to improve his skills.
If you have a child who is behind on reading, summer gives you the opportunity to read books that are actually at his level with out feeling the pressure of being behind the rest of the class or reading something that is too babyish.
Your first stop should be to the local library and not the book store. Most libraries have wonderful children’s librarians who enjoy helping you find books that are right for your child. Before you go to the library you should ask your child if there have been any books he has enjoyed reading. If your child is a reluctant reader, the answer may be none. Your next step is to find out what your child is interested in. There are books on everything; bugs, horses, fly fishing, dragons, gymnastics and car racing. Surely there is something that your child is curious about. Perhaps you watched something on Egyptian Pharos or British Castles on The Discovery Channel. The library will have children’s books on those topics. Remember this is summer reading. Let your child choose what he reads.
When determining whether or not a book is too hard or too easy your librarian can help you select books that are appropriate. However if you are searching on your own, there are a few tricks to determining how difficult a book is. First of all, on the back of the majority of children books there is something that reads R.L. and then a number. For example on the back of Dick King-Smith's book, Ace The Very Important Pig, you can find RL:4.8. This means reading level 4th grade 8th month. Therefore by the end of the fourth grade the average student should be able to read and understand this book on his own. Other books use an age range to help you determine reading level. Harper Trophy books have a series of numbers underneath their publisher’s stamp. On the Miss Piggle-Wiggle books you will find the numbers 0610. This means the book is appropriate for ages 6 through 10. Dell Publishing uses a series of six numbers. Printed on the back of the Ramona Quimby books, by Beverly Cleary is 008-012. These numbers tell you that the book is for children 8 to 12 years old.
Reading level is about more than vocabulary and size of print. Reading level also encompasses subject matter. Remember all characters must solve problems. However in a mystery book with a reading level of 3.2, the child detective will search for missing pets, or school art projects. A sixteen year old investigator may be trying to solve a murder while dealing with a friend who has a drug problem.
Series vs Sequel
Unfortunately many of us, including me, use the words series and sequel interchangeably. The words in fact have two very different meanings. Babysitter’s Club, Captain Underpants, and Hardy Boys are all series. Each book stands alone, and can be understood without reading the other books in the series. Sequel books are better understood if read in order. In these books characters grow and develop throughout the novels. Clearly the most popular sequel at moment is the Harry Potter books.
Series and sequel books are fantastic for the reluctant reader. When a child finds something he likes, he can continue to read other books which feature the same characters. If your child falls in love with a series, then you want to head to a book store. These are the books which make the most sense to purchase. They are the ones that will be read and reread. If you want to check out my favorite series and sequel books click here and you will go straight to the reading shop.
The Importance of Summer Reading
If your child is behind or struggles with reading, he must read this summer. I can promise you that the good readers in his class will be using summer to devour their books of choice. In doing so their reading skills will become even more advanced, and your child will fall further behind his peers. Use this summer to help your child get ahead, and find books that he enjoys.