When reading ability and emotional readiness don't match... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 01-16-2013, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My just turned five year old is reading like crazy--I have no idea what reading level, just everything and anything he can get his hands on.  He's read a few chapter book series (Catwings, Magic Tree House, etc) but I'm concerned about finding books that are stimulating for him academically but yet not too much for him in other ways.  I don't know that I want him reading books about children 3 or 4 years older than him.  I'd like to preserve the innocence of his childhood as long as possible without exposing him to too many story lines about evil, tragedy, etc.

How did you/do you strike the balance between reading material that is age appropriate but also on an appropriate reading level?  I'm sure it gets harder as your child's reading ability increases.

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#2 of 16 Old 01-16-2013, 09:39 PM
 
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I never worried about a book being at reading level. It's not likely that his ability will suddenly regress just because it isn't used. Emotional readiness is more important to me. You will have to find books that fit. There have been book recommendations on other threads. If you need suggestions, ask and I'll make another list. Asking at your local library and bookstore will get you recommendations of what is definately available. Good luck.
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#3 of 16 Old 01-16-2013, 09:39 PM
 
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Magic Tree House  books are great -- my daughter really loved them at that age.  When DD was 5 we borrowed a lot of books from my mother, who teaches 2nd grade. They were about the right level and I could trust the topics were safe. A teacher who loves books or a children's librarian can be an excellent resource for you.  A children's librarian should be able to point you to books that are similar in reading level to Magic Tree House with safe topics.  DD loved Ramona books at that age as well. 

 

FWIW I wouldn't worry all that much about reading level, either.  At that level, you'll probably get a good sense of the level by flipping through a book and comparing it to what your child is already reading.  When you get a bit higher, the Scholastic Book Wizard can be a good resource (google will find it for you).  It'll give you a quick estimate of a book's grade level equivilency and some other measures (lexile and DRA levels, primarily, but I prefer the GLE rating). 


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#4 of 16 Old 01-16-2013, 10:07 PM
 
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I agree with not worrying about reading level.


We found that animals stories often had plenty of depth without straying into more mature subject matter. Wind in the Willows, Dimwood Forest Chronicles, Warriors, Redwall, etc. Also, old Newbery Winners and Honor books were often good bets (pre-1970 or so).

 

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#5 of 16 Old 01-16-2013, 10:20 PM
 
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The discussion about age appropriate vs. reading level comes up from time to time here, so you may find a few old threads of some interest. A quick search turned up:

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1361671/how-careful-are-you-about-what-your-child-reads

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1357598/selecting-reading-material-for-young-gifted-children

 

Some typical strategies 

 

- pre-reading and screening

- seeking out recommendations (librarians, book blogs, children's lit review sites) - use search terms like "Sensitive Young Readers" and "Gentle Stories" 

- classics like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables, Tom Sawyer, stories by Astrid Lindgren, Edgar Eager, E. Nesbit, and Joan Aiken (may need to readaloud or use audiobooks). Some deal with loss, abandonment, death, and tragedy so if your child is particularly sensitive, you will have to be careful. 

- books with anthropomorphized animals rather than human characters eg. Dimwood Forest Chronicles, Redwall - again, there may be events that aren't comfortable (battles between factions, betrayals, struggles between right and wrong)

- non-fiction or reference books in areas of interest eg. science, mythology, biography

 

I wouldn't be too concerned about the age of the protagonist. I would focus on the behaviour of the characters, the action and the plot, and the quality of the writing, if you are trying to encourage your child toward certain reading material. 

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#6 of 16 Old 01-17-2013, 12:24 PM
 
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Just agreeing with the others, take the focus off of reading level. You'll both be happier. When he's ready to challenge himself in reading, he'll gravitate to more challenging books. You won't have to do it for him and it won't hold him back his development. He won't read Magic Treehouse forever. He will eventually pull towards heftier series about the time he's ready for them. 

 

My kids read a lot of animal stories and children's classics at that age along with lower-level series like Secrets of Droon, Magic Treehouse, ect.


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#7 of 16 Old 01-17-2013, 01:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

 

 

I wouldn't be too concerned about the age of the protagonist. I would focus on the behaviour of the characters, the action and the plot, and the quality of the writing, if you are trying to encourage your child toward certain reading material. 

 

I used to be really annoyed that characters in the books I read were much older than I was, and characters my age were always the annoying little sibs or the silly foils...but I would not say that this is anything that you need to worry about!

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I agree with not worrying about reading level.


We found that animals stories often had plenty of depth without straying into more mature subject matter. Wind in the Willows, Dimwood Forest Chronicles, Warriors, Redwall, etc. Also, old Newbery Winners and Honor books were often good bets (pre-1970 or so).

 

Miranda

Can you explain why pre-1970?


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#8 of 16 Old 01-17-2013, 07:31 PM
 
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I've just noticed that between 1970 and 1980 there seemed to be a shift towards including edgier, darker novels in Newbery lists. By 2000 some of the choices are pretty adult, IMO, like Nancy Farmer's "The House of Scorpion," a book I loved but which I would characterize as sci-fi/fantasy/horror and deem most appropriate for older teens. There are books like "Jacob I Have Loved" and "Bridgetown Terebitihia" which are incredibly emotionally charged and deal with things like sexuality and the death of a child. Whereas most of the Pre-1970 books (pre-1960 even more so) still in print are of a much tamer nature.

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#9 of 16 Old 01-18-2013, 01:15 PM
 
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Thanks Miranda!


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#10 of 16 Old 01-21-2013, 11:38 PM
 
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My oldest liked the Time Warp Trio books at that age.


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#11 of 16 Old 01-22-2013, 01:47 PM
 
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My daughter is 5 and this was so confusing to me. I haven't glanced at the other threads, so sorry if this is a repeat of information there. The Scholastics book wizard and Lexile Find a book are helpful.  I'd recommend that you learn about finding just right books for him.That will help you in your search.

 

http://www.scholastic.com/bookwizard/

http://www.lexile.com/fab/
 

It was confusing to me because most beginning chapter books will say the interest level is 7 years old and the level my daughter is at will say 3rd grade and I didn't want her reading what a 3rd grader was reading.  Books that are thinner with bigger text have tended to be ok. I just browse through the library or thrift stores to see what seems appropriate to her. It's usually pretty easy to figure out based on the summary of the story. I've had to help my child realize there are still pictures books that are challenging for her and fun to read. Just because it's in a chapter book doesn't mean it's the only thing she can read now.  I'd give you recommendations, but my daughter mostly wants to read books about fairies and unicorns.


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#12 of 16 Old 01-25-2013, 03:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I've just noticed that between 1970 and 1980 there seemed to be a shift towards including edgier, darker novels in Newbery lists. By 2000 some of the choices are pretty adult, IMO, like Nancy Farmer's "The House of Scorpion," a book I loved but which I would characterize as sci-fi/fantasy/horror and deem most appropriate for older teens. There are books like "Jacob I Have Loved" and "Bridgetown Terebitihia" which are incredibly emotionally charged and deal with things like sexuality and the death of a child. Whereas most of the Pre-1970 books (pre-1960 even more so) still in print are of a much tamer nature.

Miranda

 

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#13 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 04:38 PM
 
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I wouldn't be too concerned about the age of the protagonist. I would focus on the behaviour of the characters, the action and the plot, and the quality of the writing, if you are trying to encourage your child toward certain reading material. 

Ditto this. My 5 yo is beyond where yours is and often reads books where the protagonist is 12-25 years old, but there are certain genres and publishing eras that work better than others, for example she has read and reread things like The Little House series, the E.B. White stories, the Nancy Drew series, the Trixie Belden series, the Anne of Green Gables series, Heidi, the Betsy-Tacey series... but she also reads lots of books for younger kids like Clover Twig, Clementine, Ivy and Bean... Also, she loves magazines like Highlights, Appleseeds, Ask and Spider.

Part of what seems to be a problem is what is currently popular content. She's not ready for Harry Potter or any other super-sad, super scary or "mature" stories. So, I think it is helpful to be involved when your child seeks advanced and longer books for his/her age. I do try to help her find a variety of things to choose from.
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#14 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 04:40 PM
 
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#15 of 16 Old 01-28-2013, 04:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I've just noticed that between 1970 and 1980 there seemed to be a shift towards including edgier, darker novels in Newbery lists. By 2000 some of the choices are pretty adult, IMO, like Nancy Farmer's "The House of Scorpion," a book I loved but which I would characterize as sci-fi/fantasy/horror and deem most appropriate for older teens. There are books like "Jacob I Have Loved" and "Bridgetown Terebitihia" which are incredibly emotionally charged and deal with things like sexuality and the death of a child. Whereas most of the Pre-1970 books (pre-1960 even more so) still in print are of a much tamer nature.

Miranda

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#16 of 16 Old 02-16-2013, 04:39 AM
 
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I've found that my daughter likes really hearty picture books, too. Paddle to the Sea is a good example. She also likes non-fiction (DK books about whatever it is that has sparked her interest). My daughters teacher sends her to the library during reading group 1/week to be with the librarian and pick out a stack of books.

Another thing that has been cool for myDD is keeping a journal. Her teacher gives her a few prompts and guides every week and she writes like crazy. It's not reading but its been a differentiation that keeps her busy and happy. Her peers are writing 1-2 sentences while she is writing 5 pages with paragraphs and proper punctuation.
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