Monday, September 14, 2015

Let's Read Week: Lost Dog

Last week a mom came into the library and asked, "How can I get my child interested in reading books?"
Great question. So this week I'm doing something different. Every day I'll feature a hot-off-the-press easy reading book plus some reading resources. Except Wednesday. Wednesday will be a surprise.

Lost Dog
by Michael Garland
24 pages; ages 3-8
Holiday House, 2015

One look at the cover and I know this is the story for me. When we were kids, dad would take "shortcuts" that invariably got us lost. Not only that - how does a dog driving a car end up surrounded by penguins? You have to be really lost for that to happen.

Pete is just a normal, happy-go-lucky dog who wants to deliver a present to his grandma. But there's a traffic jam, so he decides to take the back route. Only... he gets lost. Along the way he encounters various animals who point the way to grandma's house - but their directions just take him farther away from where he wants to be. And yes, there are penguins.

Finally, Pete makes it back to town where Officer Bark (a German Shepherd police dog) helps him find his way. All's well that ends well, and the wordless endpapers show granny opening her gift.

The language is simple, the text large, and there's a lot of repetition of "That way," said the fill in the animal. But it's also plain fun to read - because, you know, anyone can get lost when trying to take a shortcut.

This is the sort of book that, after reading, you might say, "hey, remember that time when..." and launch into a family story about a shortcut-turned-long. Or maybe you have an aunt or uncle who has a lousy sense of direction and always gets lost. Sharing stories is a fun way to generate interest in reading.

Here are some other ways to get kids interested in reading:
  • Invite your child to read with you every day.
  • When reading a book with large print, point to each word as you read it. That helps your child understand that reading goes from left to right, and that the word on the page is what you say.
  • Read your child's favorite book over and over (and over!). 
  • Read lots of stories with rhyming words and repeated lines. Children love to "read" along with those parts - and you can point to the words while you say them together.
  • When you come across new words, talk about them.
  • Stop and ask about the pictures, and what's happening in the story.
  • Read from as many different kinds of children's books as you can: fairy tales, folk tales, humorous books, poetry, true stories, books about animals and plants....
  • Let your child "catch you" reading for pleasure. Our family had a "reading time" when everyone grabbed a book and a mug of cocoa (or icy lemonade) and we read for half an hour.
These strategies and more can be found at the US Dept. of Education, where you can download their publication, Reading Tips for Parents.

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