I don't think it's a coincidence that right around the end of the school year we found out Gigi was farsighted, and needed glasses. She's been reading and writing fine, but all this time she actually had a hard time seeing up close.
So maybe it's the glasses that helped her really dive into reading chapter books, or maybe it was also the challenge I presented her with as summer began.
(We're still using our summer learning plan as a guide but we're not totally adhering to it every day.)
At the end of first grade, Gigi was able to read chapter books but also a little lazy and unfocused with them. Giving her a specific challenge helped her have some motivation to start a book... and finish it. Now, she's been devouring books-- staying up late to finish with a flashlight and reading in the car.
She's been so excited to start new books that she has still had a hard time sticking to one at a time (where on earth could she get that from??). I keep telling her that when she's older like me, she can read lots of books at once. But I'm trying to encourage her to stick to one at a time to help her comprehension.
I still have to remind her to actually pick up a book and read because she's easily distracted (by Legos, her desire to play with friends, etc), but she's not longer putting up a fight most of the time.
I told Gigi if she read fifteen chapter books, she would earn a $15 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Lucky for her, her two grandmas said they would each match that. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!
I'm now certain that she will surpass my challenge, no problem (and I'm excited to see how many books she ends up finishing this summer). I originally planned to print out and hang up the list, but I think she enjoys going on my computer to type the books into the Word document as much as she enjoys finishing a book. ;)
Finding books at the right reading level
Since Gigi is mostly homeschooled, I didn't have an exact reading level given by the school to go off. I emailed her reading teacher from the learning center and got a few recommendations based on what they had read in class. The first books she was interested in reading on her own were the American Girl books, so I did a little research and found that they were about a 5th grade reading level.
From there, I researched other books that were about the same reading level, but were a subject matter that a 2nd-grade girl would be interested in. The trick I'm learning, from other moms of advanced readers, is that sometimes it's hard to match reading level with content appropriateness. We're not really there yet but that's something I want to be aware of-- so that I don't end up with her reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th grade like I did (seriously? That's supposed to be an appropriate kids' book??).
And I'm trying to steer her towards more classics than fluff (like those rainbow fairy books she always gravitates toward at the library-- those are off-limits for now, until she's ingested some of the good stuff).
Here are the books I ended up setting up as valid for the challenge. I'm sure there are lots more great ones to add to this list (I'd love to hear 'em if you have 'em!).
- American Girl historical books
- Magic Tree House books
- Thea/Geronimo Stilton books (Recommended by her teacher)
- Little House in the Big Woods (We're also reading through this series together out loud)
- Charlotte's Web or other E.B. White books (We've read aloud a couple of his already)
- Caddie Woodlawn
- Illustrated classics (these abridged versions were a gift recently): The Secret Garden, Little Women, Heidi
- the Ramona books
- Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth books (This is a new series where Fancy Nancy is a few years older and solves mysteries)
- The Boxcar Children books
- Pippi Longstocking
- The Never Girls books (We've listened to Peter Pan on audio, so these seemed like a fun, girly, not-too-fluffy series to follow up)
- Betsy-Tacy books
- A Cricket in Times Square
- Mr. Popper's Penguins
I'm so proud of what she's already accomplished. The more I get to know how God made Gigi, the more I see that likes to rise to a challenge... and she also loves earning rewards.
How do you encourage summer reading? What books would you add to my list?
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