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Readers to Help Young Children Master the Literacy Basics

written by: Anne Vize•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 12/24/2008
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Take home readers are a staple in most schools. They help young children share the reading process with their families, and provide an opportunity for frequent practise and skill development. This article looks at the National Geographic series fo readers for young children.

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    Readers for Young Children

    Most major publishers (Blake Education, Macmillan, Rigby, ERA publishing, Scholastic) publish readers for young children. These can be used for home based reading tasks with families, or they can be used to support young children who are struggling to read and are doing a reading recovery program. Most readers have several key features in common:

    • they use a large number of 'high frequency' words - these are the words that children learn on word lists (such as the Magic 100 words) and which make up the bulk of running text with words such as'a, and, is, but, to, this, here').
    • they contain targeted picture cues which increase the ability of the child to obtain meaning from the text
    • they contain information for the teacher or parent which explains the text type (narrative, first person, report, diary etc) and the word length (300 words, 450 words etc)
    • they are written to a specific reading level (such as reading recovery level 5 - a fairly basic reader with limited words and complexity, or Reading Recovery Level 20 - with more complex sentences and a longer text length)
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    National Geographic Windows on Literacy Series

    The National Geographic series is great for engaging young children with non fiction text written on motivating and interesting topics relevant to young children. The illustrations are real life photographs, and are of excellent quality. They show scenes of children and adults in a variety of environments, and in ways which help young children learn more about the world around them. There is a strong focus on the natural environment, with titles such as:

    • Sand
    • Storms
    • Sound
    • Exploring Tide Pools
    • My Balloon Ride
    • On Safari
    • Rice
    • Volcanoes
    • The Sun
    • Animal Hiding Places

    The National Geographic series is divided into sections - Step up, Emergent, Early, Fluent and Fluent Plus. Each book contains details about the reading recovery level, text length, text type, high frequency words used, key vocabulary and suggestions for the literacy focus to be used with the story. There are also suggestions to help teachers make a cross curricular link, with ideas for science learning skills provided.

    The series is published by National Geographic School Publishing.

    It is well worth a look as an addition to your school's collection of take home readers for young children in the early primary years of schooling.