Things are getting fun now. We’re all done ripping pages! Kids at this age should be able to sit still for story time, to listen to the words, and to start making sense of what is happening in the book. That’s right, now we understand story. We understand that plots move from beginning to end, and that there’s usually someone in the story who will throw a wrench in the protagonist’s plans.
At this point, you’re probably involved in preschool or Kindergarten. And so you’ve had parent conferences. And you no doubt brought a notebook and pencil and you’re asking your child’s teacher how you can help her be a stronger reader. The teacher will have some thoughts that I’m sure will be lovely, and will no doubt come from a good place. She went to school to do this job, and if you’re lucky, she’s good at it, and she gets your kid. But I’m going to tell you something crazy. I’ll take the long view here, if you will. If you are lucky enough to have been granted a child with no major developmental delays, or signs of reading difficulty, take that teacher’s advice with a grain of salt. You could practice sight words, and you could ask your children questions as you read. But you’d be making your reading time like school time, and that’s not what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be time to share stories. If you can keep it there, then keep it there. Questions will come up on their own, and you can tackle them together as they do. But the best thing you can do is continue making reading a priority, and making reading enjoyable.
Want to take it one step further? Prove to your kids that reading doesn’t just happen before bedtime. Make time for reading on lazy weekend mornings, or right after school. Reading shouldn’t be something that puts you to sleep.
My picks for this age group fall into 2 categories, books that spark imagination, and books that bring you back home. Strive for a balance of the two.
Books that spark imagination:
The Stinky Cheese Man, by Jon Scieszka
Runny Babbit, by Shel Silverstein
Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin
Sector 7, by David Wiesner
The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds
Books that bring you back home:
There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, by Mercer Mayer
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall
Which Witch is Which? by Pat Hutchins
Ellen’s Lion, by Crockett Johnson
The Art Lesson, by Tomie dePaola
Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems
One, by Kathryn Otoshi
The Legend of Spud Murphy, by Eoin Colfer