By Judy Belanger
Reading, like many other activities, requires practice to improve skill. Publishers, now more than ever, are producing a great wealth of books for beginning readers. They come in graduated levels, but the format is similar. These books use words appropriate for beginning readers so they feel comfortable reading independently. Many are written by familiar authors, or based on their stories. Here are a few books that will help your children keep up their reading skills during the summer months. Visit www.starfall.com for additional early reading practice. And don't forget to sign your children up for the summer reading program at your public library. It's not too late to get started.
MAX AND RUBY PLAY SCHOOL, by Rosemary Wells, Grosset & Dunlap, $3.99; ages 4-7. Ruby, the older sister, wants to play school with Max. She thinks it is important for him to learn his ABC's, colors and numbers. All Max wants to do is play with his car. Besides, he already recognizes the color red-it's the color of his car. Max also knows the number five, because he brings that many cars to his sister. This story is based on characters in other stories by Wells. Included in the book are cards that can be cut apart and matched to the pictures to help children learn the words. This is a picture reader, a very beginning level book.
FUN WITH DICK AND JANE, Grosset & Dunlap, $3.99: ages 4-8. I grew up reading the stories of Dick and Jane, as did so many other grandparents. We fondly remember the family that also includes Mom, Dad, little sister Sally and their dog Spot. The everyday family life and repetition of words helped us learn to read and I'm glad to see the stories back in print. It's been fun for me to sit down with my granddaughter and visit these old friends again.
RAINBOW FISH: DON'T CHEAT, RUSTY, by Jodi Huelin, HarperFestival, $3.99; ages 4-7. All the fish are studying for their upcoming test on identifying seashells. Rusty is having a tough time memorizing the shapes, colors and patterns and doesn't think he will ever be ready for the test. Rusty goes to see his teacher after school, but she's already gone home. While he is there, he sees the seashells that have been set up for the next day's test. So he is the only fish to get a perfect score on the test. This is a good book to introduce a discussion about cheating.
ARTHUR'S FIRST KISS, by Marc Brown, Random House, $3.99; ages 6-8. The Arthur stories are always a favorite. In this story, Francine is having a party and the rumor is she will kiss Arthur. The girls have a great plan that involves pulling names out of a hat. While Arthur's sister, D.W., is out walking their dog, Pal, she spies on the party and ruins the plan. The book includes stickers children can place near the matching words or use to write their own stories.
BUNNICULA AND FRIENDS: THE VAMPIRE BUNNY, by James Howe, illustrated by Jeff Mack, Atheneum, $14.95; ages 6-8. One dark and stormy night the Monroe family, Mom, Dad, Toby and Pete, all go to the movies. At the theater they find a shoe box that contains a rabbit. They decide to call the rabbit Bunnicula-for bunny and Dracula because that is the movie they went to see. This new arrival does not make Harold the dog or Chester the cat very happy. This ready-to-read adaptation is a fun way to introduce readers to the other Bunnicula adventures they'll be able to read when they get a little older.
YOU READ TO ME, I'LL READ TO YOU: VERY SHORT FAIRY TALES TO READ TOGETHER, by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley, Little Brown & Co., $16.95; ages 6 and up. This book is fun for any adult and child who enjoy reading together. The stories, written in rhyme, are printed in three different colors. One color for each person to follow and the third color to read together. Short versions of eight fairy tales are offered, but each contains a little twist. Children should be familiar with the original fairy tales so that when Cinderella invites her stepsisters to live with her if they promise to be good and Red Riding Hood takes the wolf out to a restaurant, children will understand the change. To strengthen reading skills, switch parts (choose a different color) the next time you read this book.
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