read aloud · reading · slice of life

Questioning Myself (as the Parent of an Emerging Reader)

Every afternoon, after Isabelle gets off of the bus, washes her hands, and eats a snack, we read together. She’s comfortable reading books like this:

But she wants to read Elephant and Piggie books. I have a feeling it’s because many of her peers are reading E&P books independently. A few weeks ago, her teacher and I discussed her taking home I Am Going, which is an E&P book. After a lot of support from me (and about three weeks), Isabelle was able to read I Am Going independently. (I have a feeling a lot of it was memorized due to the repetition.)

Tricky Words Flash Cards
Six weeks have passed since our initial foray into reading E&P books together. We’re about ten or so days into our third one, Happy Pig Day. This one is harder than the previous ones we’ve read since it contains more complex words Isabelle hasn’t encountered yet. Therefore, I made flash cards for Gerald’s part, which is the part she’s chosen to read in this book. We review them prior to each reading of Happy Pig Day.

Here’s a peek into her reading aloud from Happy Pig Day today.

Not bad, right? I cannot tell how much is memorized, but I do know she is self-correcting when she misreads, so that’s a positive thing. 

If I’m being honest with myself, I know this book is too challenging for her right now. However, I believe motivation is crucial, which is why I’m allowing her to read this with a high amount of support from me. Therefore, we’ll continue reading the eight-page books her teacher sends home, as well as the E&P books she wants to read. And, I’ll probably keep second-guessing myself every day.

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18 thoughts on “Questioning Myself (as the Parent of an Emerging Reader)

  1. What you’re doing is basically shared reading! Keep rereading favorites over and over. Having favorite books memorized is a wonderful step along the way for emergent readers. She’s using the pictures to remember how each part goes, and even matching up the print to what she’s saying. She understands how books and print work! Awesome!

  2. Sounds like you are working to achieve a balance of hard books read through motivation and easier books that she can read independently. We do read many words as whole words, aka via memory. Sounds like you are making sure she has all early literacy skills at her disposal, not just that one.

  3. This book is actually a great instructional/shared level for her, and in about a week it will be her independent level. You have to do harder books to make growth. She is self-motivated to try harder! Yay! She is doing the right self corrections, the finger pointing is accurate, she is getting the inflections. No, this book is perfect for her. She is already a thoughtful reader. She doesn’t like to answer your questions though! I think I remember doing that – wondering why someone would ask me something that is so obvious that I don’t even know how to explain it! It seems that’s where she was with the “Gerald/Piggy” switch.
    Oh, Momma! You got this!

      1. I had not yet read your post. Reading did not come easily for my son, nor did spelling. It was difficult for a teacher/mother to watch the struggle. I wanted to help. He wanted me to be a mom and even asked me if I could not be a teacher and just be his mom. Sinker of hearts. We still worked on reading together, but I relaxed a bit!
        He is a successful, dyslexic, nearing middle-age man now. He reads. He writes. He knows his limitations, though, and works around them. I am so proud of him.
        Your daughter has the inner strength to do whatever she sets her mind to – as long as she is not pushed past her emotional limits and beaten down.
        Be a proud mom! You are doing exactly what you need to do. And she is doing what she needs to do. Yup! Be her mom. Sprinkle your wishes upon her. She’s going to shine! Amazingly, she will probably become a teacher, and will have compassion and understandings only she could have.

  4. I have a wonderful image of the two of you curled up, reading a book. For now, it is Elephant and Piggie, but in years to come – who knows! And what matters is the shared love of reading. You are giving your daughter the support she needs to reach a goal she has for herself. That is what we do – as parents and as teachers.

  5. Stacey, I absolutely believe you are doing the right thing to let her read Elephant and Piggie books with you. Isabelle is a reader! I love the fact that she wants the challenge and is self-motivated. So, stop worrying. You are doing everything right – more than right. By the way, I struggled with phonics all through the primary grades. I believe I became a reader because of my mother. We read together – new books and returned to others over and over again. I developed an incredible sight vocabulary, and I believe that was what saved me. Eventually, I understood phonics and blending sounds. But first, I had an army of sight words and an understanding of many affixes. Mom and I created word systems, and we read a poem each day. I picked one word from the poem that I wanted to know more about, and Mom would use the word throughout the day in many contexts. Finally, I would use the word in a conversation at the dinner table. That was my challenge. My prize – a new book at the end of the week! Happy reading!

    1. Thank you for your supportive comment and for sharing your own story, Lynne. I have a feeling I’ll be seeking out your advice as I travel down the reading road with Isabelle.

  6. You and you daughter, snuggled in, reading. That’s my takeaway right now. If she’s interested, you are right there to guide her, and the two of you are loving what you are doing, what’s the question? 🙂

    True, we outsiders don’t know the dynamics, but in the end, you are sharing a love of reading with your daughter, and helping her to discover that same love. I would imagine this is not the only book she’s reading, nor will it be the only book she reads. There will be time to worry (just look at my gray hair), but this, right now, isn’t one of them! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your daughter’s reading with us!

  7. I’m wit Elephant and Piggie too. It is for the same reason that my struggling second graders (often boys) gravitate towards Matt Christopher books…even when they are challenging. There are skills and there is motivation and there is discovering the love of a magical funny book. So you help a bit more with the challenging parts, but she will remember the love of literature that is not always there in a “just right” book. Enjoy!

  8. It is such a hard struggle balancing being a mom and a teacher when our kids are learning to read. My son adores books and being read to, and I have read to him every day since he was born. (Truly. I read him the hospital menu because I hadn’t thought to back any baby books in my hospital bag.) I know that my son really struggled in kindergarten because he wanted to read, and read interesting books. Cutting out cards with word sounds and gluing them to the right picture bored him senseless, and those eight page, level appropriate books that he was given to read in class were so basic as to be stultifying. He felt like he was not a reader because he could not read what he wanted to read, and so he stopped trying for a long time. After a summer with me (and away from the rigidity of the classrooms at his school), his love of reading returned, and he was willing to try again. He too can now read Elephant and Piggie on his own, and many nights asks his he can read me a bedtime story and then I read him one.

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