First grade is an important transition time for young readers. Typical first graders readers have graduated from picture books but still have fun with old favorites. Your first grade child will be old enough to start reading independently while still enjoying story time with mom and dad. Don't worry if your budding bookworm seems unsettled and switches from pictures to words and back again. All of the following formats are appropriate for your young reader:
•Picture Books Plus: Illustrated books with text are a good bridge to independent reading for first grade readers. Books like the "Miss Nelson" series come in the familiar large format of a picture book, but with more complex text. The illustrations are a colorful complement to the engaging story of feisty first-graders and their bad behavior. The non-fiction science series by Aliki which includes "Digging up Dinosaurs" and "My Five Senses" provides an accessible and easy introduction to reading.
•Rhyme and Repetition: Reading the same books over and over can give your beginning reader confidence in his growing grasp of letters, words and sounds. Books with rhymes, recurring words and poetry are always popular with young readers. Reading these books aloud to your first grader can help improve vocabulary and language pattern recognition. The classics of Shel Silverstein like "The Giving Tree" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends" use poems with a simple and spiritual message to engage parent and child alike.
•Focus on Phonics: Most of the popular Dr. Suess books feature the simple sound and letter groups that form the basis of phonics. Phonics instruction strengthens your child's understanding of the relationship between written letters and sound – an essential building block of reading fluency. First grade is a time when children are sounding words out loud as they read and learning to scan simple sight words like "cat" and "hat". This is an important phase in whole world recognition – an essential building block of reading.
•Familiar Fables: As your child sharpens his reading skills chapter and series books let him confidently follow familiar characters and situations while providing fresh new stories. The "Magic Tree House" series of adventure books, "A to Z Mysteries", "Cam Jansen" and the "Rainbow Fairies" books are all great choices. The people and plots will motivate your child to finish the story and move on to the next. These books are a perfect choice for first graders as they move beyond the mechanics and begin to read for meaning.
•Shared Reading For Parent and Child: Continue reading with your child even as he begins to read independently. Research has shown that the children of parents who read to them frequently develop reading habits and skills that last a lifetime. Re-visit beloved books with your own child. Classics like "Charlotte's Web", "Black Beauty" or "The Borrowers" will make story time magical. Simply listening to words reinforces fundamental reading concepts for first grade readers. Precious time spent with parents is also the perfect positive reinforcement for both beginning and reluctant readers.