It seems like a small step across the library from the picture books surrounded by toys and trains to the emergent or easy reader section, but for children making the move it is a big step and an exciting one.
Emergent reading begins when the child at any age begins to notice there are words on the page as well as pictures. The next step is identifying specific printed letters, usually those in the child’s own name. Then the child will then begin to connect the marks on the page with the sounds they make. These pre-reading stages can be encouraged by frequent reading of picture books, sharing rhymes and songs, and joining other children in these activities in school or the library. Each stage is a cause for celebration!
When the child begins to assemble sounds together and recognize them as words, the most helpful books are not in the picture book section. For this activity, children need a very few words on the page and larger print as the brain makes the connection between eyes and ears into comprehension. Now it is time to make the Big Jump to the Emergent or beginning reader books!
Many of us remember these beginning readers as the stilted tales of no relevance to children today. The publishing world has discovered the emergent reader market and met the need in colorful active exiting ways. At GEPL, just past the computers, is a set of low shelves just the size for browsing by the emergent reader. One way to tell if a book is too easy or hard for your child is the Five Finger test: Start reading on page 1. When the child comes to the first word they do not know or can’t figure out, hold up one finer. If by page 3 or 4 you have up five fingers, a book form a different color category may be better matched to the child’s success level.
Programs for Emergent Readers at the Library
On May 15 at 6:30 p.m. or May 16 at 10:30 a.m., emergent readers and the parents are invited to a 30-minute introduction to this literary and developmental transitional time. Children may stay with parents or watch a film while Childhood Literacy Librarian Robin Currie discusses reading readiness and moving from picture books to early readers. Register online for the May 15 or May 16 programs.
-Robin, Early Literacy Librarian