Just For Parents

Advice and strategies to help your children read

April 02, 2000

Reading with real kids

With spring and summer vacations around the corner, elementary school children can keep their reading skills polished with new and exciting books. To nurture this enthusiasm, parents may need some help choosing the right books to foster their child's skills. A series of books titled Real Kids Readers is helpful in improving these skills as it encourages pleasure reading.

Real Kids Readers are attractive books featuring color photography of real people, animals and things that depict what children love: funny, down-to-earth stories. This unique series combines the principles of phonics with a whole-language story. Today, educators across the country support this balance between the two when teaching reading, so Real Kids Readers help parents reinforce and build upon the foundations children learn at school. When selecting the right reading level for your child, try the easier books first to build your child's confidence. The books are divided into three reading levels:

* Level 1 is for children just beginning to read.

* Level 2 is for those who can read with help.

* Level 3 is for independent readers.

A listing of the phonics skills presented in each story is provided at the end of each book, and the importance of praising and encouraging your child as she develops independent reading skills is emphasized. Be the cheerleader, not the teacher. Here are some other suggestions to keep in mind if your child gets stuck on a word or makes a mistake:

* Wait a moment to see if he works it out alone.

* Encourage her to use picture clues.

* Encourage him to use context clues.

* If your child still doesn't get the word, tell her what it is and move on. Don't wait for frustration to build.

Real Kids Readers are available at book stores or through the Millbrook Press (800-462-4703).

-- Susan Rapp,Village Reading Center

What other kids are reading

Ever wonder what all the other kids are reading? For a hint, Barnes & Noble's list of its 25 best-selling kids' books of 1999 is a good place to start. Some new faves took the top slots, but not far behind are the timeless classics many of us read as kids. The full list is available on the barnesandnoble.com "Kids!" page, but here are the top 10:

* 1. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling

* 2. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling

* 3. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling (hardcover)

* 4. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling (paperback)

* 5. "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss

* 6. "What's Heaven?" by Maria Shriver

* 7. "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein

* 8. "I Choose You!: Pokemon Chapter Book #1" by Tracey West

* 9. "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Bill Martin

* 10. "Holes" by Louis Sachar

-- Tricia Bishop

On Wednesdays: The Just for Kids section with read-aloud story, puzzles and poster

The Sun's readers tell their success stories and offer tips on encouraging children to read.

Bringing the books

"When my son was little he carried his bag of books with him everywhere. By bringing his books with him wherever he went, he would charm everyone into reading to him. He still takes his books with him wherever he goes."

-- Lisa Chalk, Baltimore

Following an interest

"I make an effort to find a subject in which my daughter shows special interest. The next phase is to go to the library, where she can use her computer skills to search for titles and/or subject books about it. Next, she writes down the names or call numbers of the books. Finally, she decides which book she'll take home."

-- Victoria Thompson, Baltimore

Reading before bed

"I like to read with my children before bedtime. It helps us unwind after a long day."

-- Vicki Hertz, Millersville

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