Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Recommended Reading for Toddlers/Preschoolers

A strong ability to read is the very foundation of education for your child.  The earlier and more consistently you work with them to build the basics of reading skills, the easier it will be for them to pick up and the more interested they will typically be.  

If you are looking for some fun books to teach manners and help your toddler or preschool build their reading skills, I highly recommend the Magic Castle Readers series.  (Nope, I am not being paid for this post.)

I bought this series when my daughter was about 2 years old and began reading them to her every night.  She would pick 2-3 of them each night (and often beg for another round).  She is 8 now, is reading above her grade level and yet still enjoys reading them to her little brother.  

The words are simple and the font size makes it easy to point along with your finger for little ones to follow along (I always do this when reading a story - it helps them build visual word and letter recognition).  When I realized that she knew the story well enough to have some of the words memorized, I would start to leave out a word at the end of my sentence and she would fill it in, and then later, I would leave out the repetitive phrase throughout the books and she would read that.  

The illustrations are also great at re-enforcing the message but being fun and colorful to keep their attention.  Each book features a little poem in the front about libraries being a magic castle and books being like a magic word window - this little saying fascinated my daughter from day one.  At the back of each book are pages that ask the children to repeat words or ideas from the story to enforce the learning experience and help you gauge how well they have learned what you are trying to teach them.

The stories all have an implication about manners and everyday behavior skills young children are building.    Some of our favorites are:
Yes, No, Little Hippo  - A Book About Being Safe (Magic Castle Readers)
These ones in particular are great for reviewing inappropriate behaviors like doing what mom and dad tell you not to, how being grumpy impacts those around you, and good habits versus bad habits.  I like to pull these out when we are having a rough day and I'm losing my mind.  A few minutes of quiet snuggling up reading these stories and usually the kids pick right up on what are the good behaviors and what are the inappropriate ones.  Then we can discuss how Little Man jumping on Mommy's bed could result in a fall like the one Little Hippo takes but when Little Hippo listens very good and does the right thing then he gets a reward for being good.

Some of the books like
The Magic Moon Machine (Magic Castle Readers… focus on counting and reasoning skills.

 Others improve memory and rhyming abilities.

So if you are looking for some reading that will keep your young one's attention but also provide a multi-faceted learning benefit, I highly recommend the Magic Castle Reader series.  It does appear to be out of print but I was able to find many available online at a reasonable cost and I have seen them in our local library as well.  Happy reading!

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