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Read With Me, Please

Read with Me: Best Books for Preschoolers by Stephanie Zvirin is reviewed by Krista Jefferies.

In her book, Read with Me: Best Books for Preschoolers ($18.95, Huron Street Press), Stephanie Zvirin offers parents numerous helpful tips to encourage their children to read, along with a comprehensive catalog of kid-friendly books. Zvirin, an editor for the American Library Association (ALA), provides insight about the types of books that are appropriate for each age group and how to share the experience of reading with children at the various stages of their early lives. 

This book is logically organized, each chapter building on the previous one like adding train cars to a locomotive on this journey to literacy.  Each list of suggested reading is alphabetically ordered, and filled with a variety of books for both boys and girls.  Among Zvirin’s recommendations for infants and toddlers are books that include bright colors and vibrant pictures, subjects that include everything from animals to sports, stories that teach anything from opposites to counting (in English and Spanish), and multi-cultural characters that expand a child’s scope of the world.  Her lists for older children, ages 4-8, include books that adhere to a child’s growing sense of the world, offering themes like family, friendship, nature, and make believe.

This book is a great tool for parents, but it’s also useful for family members, friends, daycare providers, and anyone else with an opportunity to read to kids. I recognized strategies I’ve used with my nieces and nephews, and even my students while reading aloud with them, such as changing inflection to capture characters’ voices or to show enthusiasm.  There are also plenty more to try out in the future, simple tips that make reading a constant fixture in a child’s life.  I plan to pass this book along to a friend who has recently mentioned he’d like to read more with his children but doesn’t really know where to start.  This is a terrific starting point for any parent, and Zvirin’s advices don’t stop here—the final pages offer an array of reputable resources for reading guides and book blogs that will connect anyone to the wide world of words. 

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We Can Tell You How To Get The Sesame Street Brand New Readers Series

Today’s review is by Karen B. Estrada

I loved Sesame Street as a child, and as an adult I continue to love the show for its educational value and lovable characters. What I did not know was that Sesame Street also has a new series of books: the Brand New Readers series, published by Candlewick Press recommended for ages 4 and up, $5.99 each. These books are no less educational than the TV series and offer parents a little bit of help in teaching their children how to read. I recently reviewed two of these books, Bert and Ernie Go Camping and Cookie Monster’s Busy Day.

Each book in the Brand New Readers series starts with helpful tips for making “first-time reading easy and fun.” These practical suggestions mirror reading strategies that as an English teacher I have used to help struggling readers, even into adulthood. One such strategy involves previewing. The Brand New Reader series suggests parents read the brief introduction to each story aloud to their children and flip through the pictures to help the child visualize what is going to happen in the story. This is an excellent strategy that most of us use when we read—we check out the book cover, read the synopsis on the back, maybe flip through some chapters and skim a few lines here and there. Teaching children how to preview what they are about to read will help them with comprehension later down the line and build their confidence as they are grappling with new words and ideas. Offering parents this list of helpful tips to guide them in their children’s early reading education is something I applaud as an English educator.

The Sesame Street Brand New Readers books each offer four short stories, with classic illustrations of your favorite Sesame Street characters by Ernie Kwiat. The stories are written in simple language and build vocabulary page by page. For instance, in “Cookie Monster Cleans Up,” the story begins with “Cookie Monster washes his hands” and each page shows a different body part—face, arms, belly, and so on—allowing  young readers to retain knowledge of the first part of the sentence and learn one new word each page. The stories in each book both build vocabulary and teach children; Cookie Monster’s Busy Day includes stories that teach about bathing, eating fruits, getting around, and making the bed (my favorite!). In Bert and Ernie Go Camping, children will learn about animal tracks, nature, weather, and loving the great outdoors. Investing in several of the books in the Sesame Street Brand New Readers series will not only help you successfully teach your child valuable reading strategies to help them grow as a reader, but also expand your child’s vocabulary and knowledge.

 The Sesame Street Brand New Reader series is a great way to help your child learn to read with fun stories about the characters he already knows and loves from the TV show. Buy several of these, because if your child is anything like my niece was when learning to read, he or she may quickly memorize the story after reading it a few times and use the pictures to make you think he is reading the words—a brilliant but sneaky strategy showing just how intelligent your child really is! Use the Brand New Reader series as a foundation for developing your child’s early reading skills and gradually introduce your child to more advanced stories once they have mastered the strategies and vocabulary taught in these books.

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