Did you know that 50% of U.S. adults cannot read at an 8th grade level (illiteracy)? That almost half of Americans--although they have the ability to read--will not read a single book all year (aliteracy)? That literacy is so closely correlated to social issues that some states actually base their projected prison needs on current student reading tests? [source]
I often discuss language learning on this blog because that is a passion of mine. Of all language learning, learning to read is supremely important--as is learning to love reading. Which is why I am excited to share this shoot of my 4-year-old nephew, Rhett, reading from Budding Readers Set 1 books.
We are reading from a digital beginning reader set called Budding Readers (also available on Amazon). Each set contains the same book in several forms, each with increasing difficulty. The first book is a wordless picture book, which encourages imagination and drawing conclusions from pictorial clues. In the next book, a single word is introduced, which teaches through repetition and punctuation context. Each book adds a simple word or words with short vowel sounds as children grow in ability and confidence. The FREE parent guide is fantastic and worth reading, regardless of which readers you use.
These readers have an impressive resume. They were written by Melinda Thompson and Melissa Ferrell, sisters who discovered that the ideal early reader didn't exist. Their solution was to create it themselves. They collaborated with Dr. Cecilia Minden (former Director of Language and Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education) and award-winning illustrator Doug Oglesby to create an innovative, research-based reader.
The best part about these readers? Budding Readers promotes literacy at home and abroad. For every eBook sold, Budding Reader generously donates a set to a child in need. "One for you. One for the World. A Better World with Every Purchase."
In case you are wondering, this was the first time my nephew read from these readers. He is homeschooled and in preschool (because he has a fall birthday, he will not be old enough for kindergarten until the fall of 2017). He loves having books read to him and can read some basic, short-vowel CVC words. He took to Budding Readers set 1 readily. (I am hoping to attach a video at some point.) The repetition made him feel successful, rather than frustrated. The only thing I would point out with this readers is that they do use some simple sight words--as most readers do--that children would need to be acquainted with early on (such as "see" and "the" in set 1). My sister prefers to teach her son phonics and sounding words out, rather than using sight words, so as we read, she explained to him the phonics rules of sounding out "see" and "the" and he readily caught on. These readers have proved themselves to be an impressive accompaniment to any reading curriculum.
While we are on the subject...
Whether kids are in this stage of reading learning or not, and whether you are a parent, teacher, relative, or friend, one of the best gifts you can give the children in your life is to read out loud to them. Children comprehend on a much higher level than they are capable of reading at, so they should still be read to even after they have learned to read on their own. Reading out loud promotes reading comprehension, compassion and an ability to relate to the world, curiosity, a context for learning, better academic performance in all subjects, vocabulary building, and a genuine love and enjoyment of reading. Furthermore, it is a bonding and fun experience to share a good book with an eager child. It's never too early or too late to start read out loud to kids. Lead by example--let them catch you reading for fun. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you struggle with reading, audiobooks and storybook podcasts are wonderful resources.
If you have questions or comments about Budding Readers, reading with children, or other reading resources, please add a message in the comments below!
Disclaimers: These are not affiliate links. While one set of readers was graciously provided for our review, we received no compensation for this post. All opinions are our own.