I had a conversation with a parent at Kindergarten orientation several years ago. It was the week before school would start. I was meeting the parents for the first time and introducing myself to the kids. We talked about buses and lunches and homework and all of the typical concerns parents have. I also like to show parents an example of a book kids will be reading independently by the end of the year and a sample of writing from that May. I want parents to know where we are going and why we do all the fun, crazy, interesting, exhausting things that we do every day in Kindergarten. And then I talk about ways parents can support literacy at home- reading and talking about books together, writing cards and grocery lists, telling stories. I pass out the first book club flyers as a way for parents (primarily from a low-income bracket) to acquire inexpensive books for home. And one dad tosses the flyer aside and says "I'll buy him books when he can read books."
That sentence says a lot about why this chapter is important. "I'll buy him books when he can read books." How will he learn to read books if he doesn't have access to them? How will he learn to tell stories? Relay facts? Explore places and times far away and long ago? "Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers" is crucial, because that's how kids learn to read and learn to love reading.
There are 20 strategies in this chapter and all of them are fantastic. Even teachers of older readers may find some of these useful for students who are below level or reluctant readers. I am going to focus on three that I have used in my classroom.
Strategy 1.3 Linger Finger
This is the precursor to one-to-one correspondence. The idea is teaching children to use their finger to linger on the page, pointing at words they know and details in the pictures. Children learn to read pictures and tell the story before they learn to read the words. The linger finger helps them slow down and incorporate details and nuances, instead of flipping rapidly through the text. As readers develop to decoding text, the linger finger helps them focus on each word and track the text as opposed to sliding.
Strategy 1.5 Word Treasure Hunt
I love this strategy for students who are ready to start decoding in emergent level texts. I've had many students (and my own 5-year-old!) who were perfectly comfortable reading words in isolation but absolutely refused to read books because it's too hard or intimidating. Like most classrooms, we have 1-3 sight words a week. I put these sight words on cards in a basket in the library. Students put on their reading glasses (dollar store sunglasses with the lenses popped out), choose a card, and choose a book. Their task is to find that word as many times as they can in the text. Children are amazed at how many words they find! And as they learn more words they start reading and pointing out other sight words that they know. Invariably, they are so proud of knowing that they can read words in books! Dr. Seuss books are fantastic for this because they are "real books" that intentionally incorporate a heavy number of sight words although you can use any text of any level.
Strategy 1.6 Characters Do, Characters Say
This strategy is for literary texts. The idea is to use pictures to describe what characters are doing and what they are saying. My students loved this strategy and got really involved. This was also my opportunity to introduce the speech bubble. I put a paper speech bubble on a stick and let students hold it as they spoke for the character. What a hit! That speech bubble stick made it into our partner reading center where students took turns speaking for characters as they read together. This would also be a good introduction to reader's theater for older readers.
I hope you've enjoyed this peek into my classroom to see some strategies for supporting pre-emergent and emergent readers. There are 17 more in chapter one that I encourage you to check out and try for yourself. Leave a comment about what has worked for you! Follow along with the rest of the book study for Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book at http://croftsclassroom.blogspot.com/ .