So, what right have I, a photographer and yoga teacher, got to give advice on selecting children’s books? Well….
…. once upon a time, but not so very long ago, I was an academic. I completed a PhD in Early Childhood Education at the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University, Sydney, specialising in literacy development and bilingualism. So, I know a teeny bit about the subject. My dissertation is available through Macquarie University library for those of you who are interested ;-).
There you have it. I’ve come out of the academic closet!
And why a post on this topic? Well, I’ve been exchanging views on the topic with Pascale Wowak (a talented photographer from Santa Cruz) and I have decided it’s about time I stop filling up her comments section and post something here. Sorry, Pascale, for being so wordy on your blog!
So what should you look for when choosing books to help early readers? Here’s my twenty cents’ worth:
- predictable books, that is books with rhythm and rhyme and repetition (which support beginning readers in predicting the next word)
- books with strong picture cues (ie, pictures that are closely linked to the text, again helps beginning readers guess what a word might be)
- real books written by real writers with a real story to tell (ie. not books of the ‘Dan can fan the man’ variety)
- books on a topic you know the child loves
- books on a topic with which the child is already familiar (Learning to read, like all learning, goes from the known to the unknown. It is relatively easy to work out that the letters S-A-D-D-L-E say “saddle” when you see the word in a book about horses and you already know that saddles go on horses. It is very difficult to work out what the same string of letters might say when you see them written on a flash card with no supporting context.)
- books you love. (You’re more likely to enjoy reading it to your children if you really like the book.)
It can be really helpful to build a good relationship with someone in a specialist children’s book shop and/or your local librarian. These people have access to such a vast array of great books that they can help you find just the right book for your child.
That’s it for now. It’s school holidays here and I have two sick kiddies at home. I’d best go and be a mother. Keep checking back here often, though, as I will post more on this topic from time to time.