Last update: 07-Dec-2013 2:36 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Hooking the struggling reader
When you’re packing to go away for the holidays, you might want to pack this list of children’s books if you can’t find them in T&T. Here are some of my recent finds for young readers who need a boost in their confidence while they’re developing valuable reading skills. These books are for students whose reading skills are still at a relatively low level. Call these books high-interest, low-reading level.
1. The Trouble with Chickens: A JJ Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin—This very easy book with action-packed illustrations will help beginning readers develop the analytical skills that can be developed from reading mysteries. In this hilarious novel, JJ is a retired search and rescue dog who is trying to enjoy his retirement until two chicks and their mother show up and demand that JJ helps them find the missing members of their families.
2. Bindi Wildlife Adventures by Bindi Irwin—This is very easy reading from the late Steve Irwin’s daughter. These animal stories, often set in the Australian outback and the zoo where Bindi works, provide fun-filled and exciting reading. This is an opportunity for young and struggling readers to join the popular trend of reading series.
3. The Boy Who Owned the School by Gary Paulsen—This novel has a reading level for Standard Two to Three, but older children will love this book. Paulsen is a very popular writer for 12-15-year-old boys, mostly because of his novel Hatchet, which is about a boy who survives in the Alaskan wilderness after the pilot crashes the their-seater plane. In the Boy Who Owned the School, Jacob Freisten tries to get through school by being totally unnoticed. Then one day, he gets a job to run the fog machine for the school play. Ironically, he can’t hide again. Paulsen has an amazing ability to connect to young readers with riveting plots and thought-provoking themes.
4. Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo—Another series for young readers now learning to read. Mercy Watson is a precocious pig who is treated like a child. Her adventures are funny, and Kate DiCamillo is sure to hook readers into later exploring some of her great books for older readers. Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Magician’s Elephant and one of my favourite books, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, are some of her popular novels.
The Mercy Watson series is perfect for students now learning to read because words and concepts are repeated to build reading fluency.
5. Dear Hound by Jill Murphy—A dog named Alfie runs away to the woods after he becomes upset with his owner Charlie. Of course he gets lost. He makes friends with some friendly foxes, Sunset and Fixit, has many great adventures, but always misses his owner. Alfie’s challenge is to find his way back home. The text of this novel is broken up with quaint line drawings that lure reluctant readers through the text. The pictures appear as panels in the text making it feel like something between a comic and a novel. This novel will appeal to all readers—reluctant readers and those who revel in a good read. Readers from six to 10 will fall in love with reading when they experience this allegory of finding one’s place in life. Strong themes of friendship and home make this novel a riveting read.
6. Marvin Redpost Alone in His Teacher’s House by Louis Sachar—The popular author of Holes has moved his readership down to beginning readers. Most of Sachar’s books qualify for high-interest, low-reading level. Although this novel is at a seven-year-old’s reading level, the subject matter will appeal to struggling readers at age 10 or 11. In this novel, a boy, who is house-sitting for his teacher, finds himself in the unenviable position of telling his teacher that her dog died under his care. This novel teaches responsibility and facing difficult situations. All of Sachar’s books deal with personal and social issues that appeal to young readers.
7. Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School: We the Children by Andrew Clements—A boy’s school is about to be demolished to make room for an amusement park. Again, a children’s author introduces a story that helps students develop problem-solving skills. Clements’ books target readers from eight to 12. This book has a reading level of about age nine or 10.
8. The Birthday Ball by Louis Lowry—Lowry, a popular author for 11 to 14-year-old readers, has moved her readership down to eight to 10-year-olds while appealing to older children with high-interest, low-reading levels. The story of a bored princess who falls in love with the village school teacher will certainly appeal to girls up to 14, but the reading level is for eight to ten-year-olds. The line drawings are cool and the font is reader friendly. This is a very popular read in my school among elementary students.
9. Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary—This is one of those timeless, modern classics for readers now plunging into chapter books. Beverly Cleary has books galore for young readers.
There you have it: books to hook reluctant, struggling readers.
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