A reading basal was placed in my hands. The teacher recommended using the pre-determined questions listed in the margin (in case you aren't familiar with these, they're generally the most boring, rote memorization type of questions possible). Finally, there was a worksheet the students needed help with at the end listing main ideas and supporting details. My heart sank a little...
Now, don't get me wrong, I understand the reading basal is the curriculum decided upon by the state government and the teachers have very little say in the public school system. Basals can certainly accomplish some objectives regarding teaching children how to read --it's likely the way most of us learned to read. However, the problem is, there are so many more EFFECTIVE ways to teach reading, so many more AUTHENTIC texts that will engage children in fun learning. And really, how often in our adult lives do our bosses ask us to organize a paragraph's main ideas and supporting details? :-)
Despite the lackluster reading text, I had a great time reading with the students, and it felt great to interact with them and help them, and I'm very excited to return next Thursday. Little kids are so great...one of the little girls got frustrated the teacher sent a certain boy to join our group...she leaned over and whispered to me, "He likes me and he's ALWAYS bothering me..." Love it!
So, today, I thought I would share a few children's books that I think fit the bill of being fun to read with your kids, engage them in texts filled with rich vocabulary, a purposeful plot, and authentic writing. Happy Reading!
Dog Heaven, Cynthia Rylant (ANYTHING by her is wonderful!)
My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother, Patricia Polacco (You can't go wrong with any of her books!)
Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
The Kissing Hand, Audrey Penn *Sequel, A Pocket Full of Kisses, is WONDERFUL to read to your child if you're about to add a new baby to the family!
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell
Pink and Say, Polacco *Great Civil War story
Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan
The Whipping Boy, Sid Fleischman
Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli *This is being made into a movie!