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Parents: Advice for Selecting Books for your Children (and what NOT to choose)

Parents, be aware! Just because a book has its own "Pre-reader" label printed on the front, it may not really be an appropriate text for your young child! Personally, (and professionally) I have reached my limit of tolerance with these so-called "levels." Today, I am sharing my thoughts on this topic...


Recently, my personal children and I went to Barnes and Noble. I told them they could both pick out a new book, and I spent the first few minutes with my 8-year-old, discussing how to choose a book that is "just right" for her to read. My plan was to let her spend some time exploring and searching for a book while I went alongside my 5-year-old to look at books together. Apparently, he was one step ahead of me, because before I could help him, he had already grabbed a Spidey book. He held it up, excitedly, and asked, "Oh, mama! Is this a book for me?"


On the outside, it looks like a great book for a beginning reader. It claims to be appropriate for a "Reader-in-Training" at the Pre K or Kindergarten level. It claims to feature "easy vocabulary, word repetition, and short sentences."


On the inside, however, the reading material does not match that description. At all. It includes words like "invisibility, ghost, legendary, warrior, sword, destroy," to name a few. These are not "reader-in-training" words... nor is that Lexile Level! Friends, a 510L Lexile Level is the equivalent of a SECOND GRADE text. The information on the back of this book even contradicts itself!


Here's the truth: The publishing company is hoping you "just don't know better" and will be misled into making this purchase for your child. Combine the misinformation on the outside with your child's favorite popular characters on the cover, and it has some selling appeal. It certainly worked for my son. This mother, however, knows better.


If you want to purchase books like this and read them aloud to your children, go ahead! Books like this, which are far beyond the developmental expectation for a preschooler or a kindergartener, are suitable only for you, the expert reader, to model good reading for your child. Please, please, please do not feel like your young reader should be able to read this book independently. Don't tell them they can until they have learned the skills to enable them to do so (which is NOT in Pre K...)


Bottom line: The key is finding the book that is the best fit for your child, at this time. This should be a book that reflects skills (letters, words, phrases) which your child has already learned (or at the very least skills to which he/she has been consistently exposed). Placing advanced texts in the hands of inexperienced readers does not magically "make" them better as readers. Instead, it often makes them feel defeated and discouraged. When we choose appropriate texts for our readers, we not only support their foundational literacy development, but we also support their confidence and motivation for reading as well. I cannot stress this enough.


If you want a more trustworthy option, I would recommend Bob books, or something similar. They are phonics-based and follow an appropriate sequence of skill development. You can find them in bookstores, typically near the "leveled" readers, but of course, they're also available on Amazon.


Disclaimer: This is not a paid-promotion. I have not received funds to promote any products featured within this post.

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