Saturday, October 6, 2012

Level 1 Reading-Carefully Selected

How do you choose beginning reading books for your child when there are so many books to select from? A common theme for all things children is commercialized/media merchandise. From children's underwear and pajamas, to toddler beds and sheets, and (of course) books, one cannot escape the latest Disney movie characters or Nickelodeon television series characters! It is indeed all about money--not children. I am not saying all of those things are bad, but many of them are not suitable for young children.

I think there are specific times when you can discuss and teach your child how to handle peer and family conflict, negative emotions, and misbehaving. I think there are way too many books that cover those topics. Let us keep it light! Your child is learning to read! It is supposed to be simplistic and good.

I have reviewed the most common level 1 series reading books and selected the books which reflect the kinds of themes and characters I want my young child to fill his impressionable little mind.

Lisa VanDamme of the VanDamme Academy sums up what I want to say on her video blog "What We Look for in Literature" found here on youtube. I highly, highly recommend listening to what she has to say!

Bob Books Early Readers

These were created by the makers of the Bob Books learning-to-read system. Even if your child is not familiar with the little Bob books, these are great level 1 readers.

Cupcake Surprise
Outdoor Adventures!
My School Trip
I Can Ride!
The New Puppy
Here is an excerpt from Outdoor Adventures!: "'Jack, Jack. Dad will take us on a hike today!' yells Anna. Anna puts on sunscreen. Jack runs to the car. Dad brings lunch and drinks."

Little Bear Series by Else Holmelund Minarik

The 5 classic books illustrated by Maurice Sendak are great, and it's better to have your child read them in order in the beginning because they start out easier and become slightly more difficult.

Little Bear
Father Bear Comes Home
Little Bear's Friend
Little Bear's Visit  Caldecott Honor Book
A Kiss for Little Bear
There is a newer book called Little Bear and the Marco Polo illustrated by Dorothy Doubleday.

Then there are also the newer Little Bear 
Festival Readers that came out with the television series created based on the original books. I recommend old and new when it comes to the Little Bear Series.

I am going to list the many books to make it easier if you want to find and read the whole series. Little Bear Asleep Under the Stars, Little Bear Emily's Birthday, Lucky Little Bear, Lost in Little Bear's Room, Little Bear's Loose Tooth, Father's Flying Flapjacks, Father Bear's Special Day, Little Bear and the Missing Pie, Little Bear's Picture, Little Bear's Bad Day, Little Bear Makes a Scarecrow, Little Bear's Valentine, The Snowball Fight, Little Bear's Scary Night, Little Bear's Egg, To Grandmother's House, Mother Bear's Picnic, Get Well Soon Little Bear, Spring Cleaning, Asleep Under the Stars, The Cricket Who Came to Dinner, Little Bear Makes a Mask, The Search for Spring, Little Bear's New Friend, Little Bear's Valentine, A Present for Mother Bear

Here is an excerpt from Little Bear Spring Cleaning: "The warm weather had come, and the daffodils were blooming. It was time for spring cleaning. Mother Bear had given everyone a job."

Ruby Raccoon Series by Susan Hill only has 3 books in the series that I know of so far. I am hoping they add more because they emphasize friendship and togetherness.

Ruby's Perfect Day
Ruby Paints a Picture
Ruby Bakes a Cake

Here is an excerpt from Ruby Bakes a Cake: "Ruby Raccoon wanted to bake a cake, but she didn't know how. 'I will ask my friends what it takes to bake a cake,' she said. Ruby ran to the stone wall. She saw Sam Squirrel. 'Sam, what does it take to bake a cake?'"

Dr. Seuss Series are some of the most recognizable and popular books because they are really fun to read and have great illustrations. I find many of Dr. Seuss' non-beginner books to be excessively long and over-kill on the silly made-up words. (Click here for an exception.) The Dr. Seuss beginner books are excellent.

Dr. Seuss' ABC's

Oh, the Things You Can Think
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
The Cat and the Hat
The Cat and the Hat Comes Back!
Green Eggs and Ham
Fox in Socks
Oh Say Can You Say?
Hop on Pop
Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo LeSieg (same person as Dr. Seuss)

Here is an excerpt from Ten Apples Up on Top: "Look! See, now. I can hop with four apples up on top. And I can hop up on a tree with four apples up on me."

P.D. Eastman Books are some of my favorite such as Go, Dog. Go! which is really fun. Some have shorter sentences than others. The Best Nest and Flap Your Wings are more difficult.

Go, Dog Go!
The Best Nest
Flap Your Wings
Sam and the Firefly
Big Dog, Little Dog

Duck Series by Jackie Urbanovic made me laugh out loud.

Ducks in a Row
Happy Go Ducky 

Here is an excerpt from Happy Go Ducky: "Max was happy. TOO happy. He starred at the sky with a strange grin on his face. 'Smell the flowers,' he said. 'Feel the breeze!'"

The Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Series by Erica Silverman is a great series for girls and especially girls who love horses!

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa
Spring Babies
School Days
Horse in the House
Rain or Shine

Here is an excerpt from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: "Once there was a cowgirl who needed a cowhorse. She went to a ranch and saw lots and lots of horses. Then she saw a horse whose coat was the color of chocolate. His tail and mane were the color of caramel. 'Yum', said the cowgirl. 'You are the colors of my favorite candy.' The horse looked at her. He sniffed her."

The Katy Duck Ready-to-Read Series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is another great series for girls and especially girls who like to dance.

Katy Duck

Katy Duck Dance Star
Katy Duck is a Caterpillar
Katy Duck Goes to Dance Class
Katy Duck, Center Stage
Starring Katy Duck

Here is an excerpt from Katy Duck Makes a Friend: "'This is fun!' says Ralph. 'Me too! BLAST OFF!' says Katy Duck. They zip and zoom. They whirl and twirl. 'How I love to dance,' says Katy Duck."


The following DK Readers are identified as 
Pre-Level 1, and I disagree. I think they are good books for Level 1 comparable with the other books recommended in this post.

Duck Dip Pond
Homes Around the World by Max Moore
Ponies and Horses
Here is an excerpt from Fishy Tales: "The sea horses swim to and fro. Starfish crawl on the sea floor. Jellyfish float up and down in the sea."

Unlike my post on the early reader recommendations, I am going to list some of the books that I do not recommend. I am not necessarily saying they are terrible; however, I believe there are better options out there and, as parents, we should be more discriminate in what we allow our children to read. I will give some examples of why I do not recommend these particular series:
  • Kay Thomson's Eloise Series (She acts spoiled and misbehaves. I think children do not need any ideas on how to misbehave.)
  • Pinkalicious Series (One good reason is that it does not make sense to me to include made-up words like pinkatastic and bluetiful in a book for new readers. Those belong in imaginative non-reader picture books. Also, there is often schoolyard conflict.)
  • Fancy Nancy Series (More schoolyard conflict and Nancy uses "fancy" words which are included in the back of the book such as observant, spectacular, confess, gore, disgrace yourself, dread, sob, etc. These are supposed to be level 1 readers.)
I understand that the three series above are for girls and are popular, but it seems as though the best-selling books for girls these days are all about girls who are brats. No one likes a real-life brat, but we seem to think that it is entertaining to read about a brat. People are forgetting that young children are not just reading for entertainment. They are ABSORBING and learning about how to act and behave with others. This is why I offered an alternative with Cowgirl Katie and Cocoa and Katy Duck.

Children learn by example; therefore, provide them with books about peers or characters they can actually look up to.

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