Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dyad Reading

Alysa Stewart writes on the Brightly website about dyad reading. You and your child read the same book out loud at the same time. You both point to each word and read naturally, no sounding out words. Your child uses sight, sound and touch to become a better, more fluent reader. She outlines the process here. I have used the technique without knowing its name with my grandchildren. It less stressful and more enjoyable for the child and the (grand)parent. Another benefit is being able to read stories above the child's reading level. Our ultimate goal is to make reading so enjoyable that it becomes a lifelong habit. It might be a method that would help your beginning or struggling reader.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

World Read Aloud Day

World Read Aloud Day  is celebrated in over 100 countries to highlight the importance of reading and storytelling. How are you going to celebrate?

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Another 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book is Supertruck by Stephen Savage. The story touches on two genres that appeal to young boys: trucks and superheros.

In the city there are many brave trucks, ones that fix power lines, or put out fires or tow disabled vehicles, but when a blizzard hits the city, it is a lowly garbage truck that saves the day. The glasses wearing tow truck sneaks into a garage and emerges as SUPERTRUCK! He digs out the entire city; freeing the bucket truck, the fire engine and the tow truck along the way. Where is the truck that saved the city? Just collecting the trash as he does every day.

At first, I thought the graphics were a little too juvenile for first graders, but then I was reminded of the Cars movie and books. The pictures help tell part of the story, the font is large and easy to read, there are just a few words on a page and the words are well spaced. The AR is 1.5.

The Sonoma County Library has fourteen copies.

The third Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book is Waiting by Kevin Henkes. You can read my review here.

A Pig, A Fox, and A Box

Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book, A Pig, A Fox, And A Box, by Jonathan Fenske  has all the things beginning readers want and need: humor, pictures that tell part of the story, just a few words on a page, an easily read font and rhyming. I have kid tested it with several struggling readers, they all loved it.

In the first chapter, Fox decides to play a trick on Pig. Like Wylie Coyote, the trick is on Fox. Again, in the second chapter,  Fox plays a new trick on Pig, at first Pig is fooled  but when Fox really needs help, Pig decides he is playing another trick and does not help Fox. In chapter 3, as the two friends walk away, a bandaged Fox decides that he is done playing tricks today. 

The AR is 1.3 (Penguin has it as a level two reader). The Sonoma County Library has seven copies.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reluctant Readers: Parental Tips

The Scholastic Parent's blog has some great tips for parents to help their reluctant reader "that hardly seem like reading". I love the last tip, teaching your child to speak in Pig Latin. It helps your child visualize the written word so they can rearrange the letters.

Melissa Taylor (Imagination Soup) has another list of tips for parents at She has had personnel experience with implementing some of these tips.

Both articles emphasize having lots of books, magazines and other reading materials around the house. Library cards are free, you can reserve books online and even borrow e-books.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Raising A Reader

Hat tip: Read Kiddo Read

100 Great Children's Books

New York Public Library's children's librarians have compiled a list of 100 great children's books.  Many of these books are decades old but are still widely read because they tell great stories. The very first book on the list was my oldest daughter's favorite book in the second grade, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good ,Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. My youngest daughter's favorite book (and mine, too) was Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis was one of my son's favorites.

My favorite book  reviewed for this blog is Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Others on the list reviewed here are The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Holes by Louis Sachar, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L Konigsburg and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. Authors included on the list include David WiesnerBeverly ClearyEric CarleGary PaulsenJon ScieszkaKevin HenkesMaurice SendakMo WillemsDr Seuss, and Roald Dahl.

There are books for every level of reader on this list. Some of the books like Amelia Bedelia, Curious George, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone are the first books in a series. If you like the first one you'll probably like the rest, great for reluctant readers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Schools of Hope Tutor Resources

Welcome to the new and returning Schools of Hope tutors. For those of us who like instant gratification, this is a great way to spend an afternoon. Yulupa uses the PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Strategies) from Vanderbilt University. You can read about the program here. We use a slightly different version of PALS but the principles  are the same.

When many of us went to school, the most used reading method was Whole Word (the Dick and Jane days). If you would like to review the letter sounds, you can go to Alphabet SoundsSpring Creek Elementary  made a video of a tutoring session and training. They do no use the same materials as Yulupa, but it gives you some idea of the flow.

The Five Finger Rule to help a child find the “just right” book. I give all my students a copy of this near book fair time, in the fall at Strawberry and in the spring at Yulupa and show them how to use it.

Instructions for making a word game based on dominoes from No Time for Flashcards. We are encouraged to play a game with our students at the end of a tutoring session. This is an easy one to make yourself.

And from the Kindergarten Connection the template for a first grade rhyming game. 

If you need some additional insight check out this  Advanced Tutor Training by MaryAnn Nichol. She is a professor at Sonoma State and is part of the team doing research on Schools of Hope.

Finally, for more ideas to help you with your students, just click on the Schools of Hope tag at the bottom of this post or in the left hand column on this blog.

More Tutor Resources

The Five Finger Rule to help a child find the “just right” book. I give all my students a copy of this near book fair time, in the fall at Strawberry and in the spring at Yulupa and show them how to use it.

Instructions for making a word game based on dominoes from No Time for Flashcards. We are encouraged to play a game with our students at the end of a tutoring session. This is an easy one to make yourself.

Sight Words

Yulupa uses a phonics based reading program, but there are plenty of commonly used words in the English language that do not follow the the “Rules”. These words are called Sight Words: the, and, see, come, go, know; you get the drift. By the end of first grade a child should know over a hundred of these words.

 This Reading Mama has a great article about the development of word learning as it pertains to sight words. Most of the students we see in Schools of Hope are in the second phase. These learners typically know basic letter sounds but not more complex ones like sh or th; they do not have strong decoding skills and rely on pictures and cues like the first and last letter to read words they don’t know.

A Schools of Hope video from Racine, WI has some interesting ideas about teaching sight words called Sound It Out?

Sight words are  introduced in the classroom gradually. Schools of Hope tutors review current sight words with their students every week. There are fun ways to do this. I have a couple of Sight Word Bingo games and a Picture Word Bingo game. 

I found these games locally back when we had a teacher store in town but they are available like almost everything else, at Amazon. Another game that kids like to play is Pop for Sight Words. There is a second version appropriate for late first grade and second grade.  I found the original game here in town but it both are also available at Amazon.

The Reading Mama, Becky Spence, has more than a dozen free printable sight word games here. Scroll down to the list under sight words and click on any of the games that interest you. All of these games are far more fun than drilling with flash cards while accomplishing the same goal.

Chapter Books for Beginning Readers

Nerdy Book Club contributor, Arika Dickens, has written an article about books she thinks are surefire hits for transitioning readers to chapter books. An added bonus is that all but The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes are the first in a trilogy or series. You can find her post here. Some of these books have been reviewed on this blog: Lulu and the BrontosaurusDory Fantasmagory and Bink and Gollie. Please note that two of these books are written by two time Newbery Medalist  Kate DiCamillo. It is wonderful that such a distinguished author is writing for beginning readers.

Hat tip: Growing Book by Book