Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Report for First Son in First Grade

I told myself I'd post First Son's list of books more often in first grade than in kindergarten, but I haven't. Keeping up with school, home, life and (mainly) Second Son took a lot more effort than I'd envisioned. Luckily, we read longer books but fewer of them, so hopefully this list won't be too overwhelming.

First Son reads very well and extensively on his own, so my main goals for our reading lessons, when I'd sit next to him, were to increase vocabulary and, most importantly, convince him to expand his reading horizons a little. I think it's reasonable for a seven year old boy to want to read all the books in a series. The characters become familiar and the vocabulary tends to be similar so he's not encountering too much of the unknown. I just like him to be aware there are a lot of other authors and characters out there.

When our reading lessons started to become a bit of a battle, I made a deal with First Son. Typically, we would alternate between a book I selected and one he selected (with approval from me). So far, he's chosen all Magic School  Bus chapter books.
I have not read a book by Clyde R. Bulla I didn't like. They're often exciting historical fiction novels appropriate for young readers. I would guess they're good for a first grade level. (First Son may be closer to third grade; I'm not sure how reliable these levels are.)

The Magic School Bus chapter books are quite good. They convey a large amount of information on their non-fiction topics with a familiar cast of characters and lots of silly puns. (First Son always says, "Ha ha." He likes them.)
    Overall, I think I could have done better selecting his books. Don't get me wrong; these are great books. Most of them, though, were much too easy for him. Ribsy was almost too hard and took a long time to read through together. Next year I hope to do a better job challenging him in his reading without overwhelming him. (I'm not sure I would have selected Ribsy; First Son received it from St. Nicholas and wanted to read it together.)

    What's the consensus among homeschooling moms? Should we continue "reading lessons" over the summer?


      1. Honestly, once Simon was reading fluently and no longer making sounding-out errors or skipping words, I let him loose. We set a timer and he reads independently for 20 minutes each day. I took the lists of grade 2 readers from Sonlight and we've been getting them out of the library for him to read during that time. He doesn't have to read them in order, but I try to take out batches such that the difficulty will be generally increasing. He checks off each book when he finishes it.

        Next year we'll continue similarly, but I'll just have a book box that he can pull from that will also include some thematic, age appropriate non-fiction to go with our science and history topics.

        For the summer, I will probably just take him to the library periodically and let him pick some things to read (with some guiding suggestions, of course).

        Given that Clover is basically almost to the same level he is (and clearly has comprehension as she is always telling us the stories), I probably won't bother having her read aloud to me at all!

      2. For the summer, Amanda has a reading goal and I will pick half the books, since she is inclined to choose books well below her reading level and still avoids most fiction.
        I will also have her take turns reading aloud from whatever chapter book we are reading as a family. Her teacher just recommended that we encourage reading aloud over the summer, to help develop expression and to help them take notice of proper punctuation and sentence structure.

      3. Hilary, First Son will still skip over works, slurring them if he thinks I won't notice. He's also always skipping or slightly changing little words (like not reading "he said"). I suppose the second habit isn't too awful, but it bothers me, so I'm not ready to let him read on his own for "lessons." I was going to have him read some thematic stuff this year, but we ended up scrapping some of that. Maybe I'll build some in next year. We do often tag-team read other lesson material, like from the catechism book. I'll read a paragraph or two and then ask him to read a few paragraphs aloud. It keeps him a little more focused, I think.

        Tiffany, one thing First Son does well is read dramatically! It's almost too dramatic and sometimes annoying, but I never say anything against it to him. We are friends with a high school teacher who loves to listen to him read because her students are all so dreary when reading aloud. I'd love to see what you'll be reading aloud this summer.


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