Dear Aunt Debbie,
I'm finding Eleanor's first forays into reading fascinating, and also the first time in reading to my children that I've felt like I don't fully know what I'm doing. I have no memory of learning to read, and aside from knowing that it involves memorizing some sight words and learning to sound things out phonetically, am not sure how to best teach and encourage Eleanor.
I've asked my mom (a reading specialist, and the person whose teaching is getting Eleanor to read at the moment) and a friend who teaches kindergarten and first grade (and therefore, reading) to guest blog in the next couple of weeks, so we can get some expert voices in here.
In the meantime, I hit the library shelves yesterday on my way home. As you mentioned in your last post, the reading levels governing each series seem wildly different. I picked up a few books which seemed feasible in the near future, and two which I knew immediately upon looking at them would work with Eleanor right now.
These are from the Flip-a-Word series, written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Yukiko Kido. The idea behind each book is to introduce kids to "word families": words which end with two or more of the same letters. The words are short, and within each family, they rhyme. Once you get the end sound -- "op," "un," "an," "ig," etc. -- it's easy to change the first letter and be able to read a number of related words: "stop," "pop," "top," "cop" (Flip-a-Word:Stop Pop).
The illustrations are blocky and bold, and in each word family section, there's a page in the middle with a hole in it, so that the face on the bun is the same as the face on the sun, and the face on the boy in "run" is the same as the girl having "fun." Each word is presented solo, then as part of a short phrase ("cop on top of pop") with an accompanying drawing. The pigs with wigs in Flip-a-Word: Pig Wig are particularly funny. At the end, there's a page with all the words in each family laid out together, and in each section one slightly more complex word joins them ("twig," "plan"). Finally, there's a page containing all the words used throughout the book, mixed up and in different colors and fonts.
Immediate buy-in from Eleanor. The books are clear and simple enough for her to read aloud immediately, so there's a sense of mastery, and they're funny, so there's joy in the decoding.
I look forward to more ideas from you, too!