In my ever-illusive hunt for books that are a good fit for my emergent reader, recently came across a series I am falling in love with called Training Wheels. (And no, I’m not employed by them…yet. I can always hope!)
What sets these books apart is the amazing photography, and the fact that some of the books take on advanced or unique topics that beginning readers might not have been exposed to before. This keeps interest levels high, and at the same time, the authors have managed to keep reading levels fairly low. They are not leveled according to any of the standard leveling systems, but they are leveled in a logical way.
Jane Hileman, a former reading specialist who is also a mom, founded the company that produces the Training Wheels series (American Reading Company). According to American Reading Company’s website, Hileman, “saw how quickly students advanced when using ‘books that fit’ – that is books at the appropriate level of challenge that match both the precise stage of the child’s reading development and the child’s interests.”
I couldn’t agree with Hileman more. Finding a good fit book is so essential to the growth of a beginning reader. Some kids do fine when they’re handed a book that is too hard for them to read, but others crumble.
I hope you’ll find the Training Wheel series to be as beneficial to your emergent reader as I have. Though my son wants to read each book only a couple times, he’s been enjoying the photography and even likes reading over the “power words” they list at the end. I can’t get these from our local library yet, so I’ve purchased 8 books at this point, and I don’t regret it.
So far, his favorite is The Chocolate Tree by Traci Dibble. With specific photos and simple text, it tells where chocolate comes from and how it is made. It’s something we have not had much experience with, so it was of high interest for my son. He also liked Colors in the Jungle by Kristina Rupp, Dolphins and Tigers both by Jane Hileman.
We’ve also read: Mountain Gorillas by Traci Dibble, Bats and Birds by Jayson Fleischer, and Giraffes Like to Eat by Matt Reher.
Make sure to check out all the supplemental information at the back of each book. In Colors of the Jungle, for example, there is a page at the end of the book telling all about the world’s largest flower because it was featured on the red page. The addition of sections such as these really helped draw my son in.
I can’t wait until he’s ready for Brown Bear or Black Bear? by Heather Warren and Robbie Byerly. I’m so excited! (and a geek, I know, but still I’m excited!)