Monday, October 26, 2009

Green Light Readers

photos courtesy of

Anyone with a child beginning to read knows that not all "readers" are created equal. For starters, the levelling system will vary greatly from brand to brand -- a "1" from one company might be more or less the same as a "2" from another, while a "2" from that company might look more like a "3" from still another company. Sometimes there's variability within a company -- not all "2s" are at the same level of difficulty. Frustrating if you don't have time to run out to the bookstore and thumb through books to see just how complex the text is.

Green Light Readers, therefore, were a welcome surprise for us. I was looking for something my son could read independently, but something that wouldn't intimidate him with a lot of small text. He's past most of the true #1 readers -- the kind with only 5-10 words per page, often staring Dora the Explorer or someone else that he considers "babyish." I needed something with perhaps 5-7 sentences per page, but with vocabulary he could manage, and it had to have a story he could follow and appreciate. It couldn't be Dora saying "Hop across the rocks! Hop! Hop! Hop!"

Daniel's Mystery Egg by Alma Flor Ada had a story that was interesting to my 6 year old. A boy finds an egg. His friends all predict what kind of egg it is (ostrich, alligator, duck) and what problems he's going to encounter because of it (not enough room, reptile trying to eat him, noise). Finally the egg hatches and we get to see what was in it. Daniel is quietly confident throughout the book and the pictures on each page clearly cue the reader about the content of the text. This is great for emergent readers -- if they aren't sure about a word, like ostrich, they can look at the picture and make an educated guess. If they've read it before, they can look at the pictures to remind them what that new word is. Many books do this, but this series seems particularly good at dovetailing the illustrations with the text.

The text is larger than normal, which is good for 5-6 year olds whose eyes haven't yet developed to the point that they can comfortably read smaller print (normally, this occurs between ages 6 and 7). We liked this book so much, we bought another one called Did You See Chip? by Wong Herbert Yee. The story in this one was perhaps not as compelling, but the text and illustrations were again well-coordinated for beginning readers. Both books are level 2 readers.

Another nice feature is that many of the Green Light Readers are available in Spanish, making them applicable for Elementary foreign language teachers, Bilingual teachers, bilingual families and those who just want to expose their children to another language. All the books come with suggested activities at the back of the book. While we chose not to do them, they are a nice feature for enrichment or possibly for homeschoolers.

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