Language and literacy are vital to a child’s success in school and adult life. The EC Bookshelf offers a host of sets that focus on one or more aspects of reading, writing, and oral language development while telling amazing stories or sharing important factual information.
Celebrate the Story!A house without books is like a room without windows.
What educational experience could be more satisfying for a young child than to have a classroom filled with books and a teacher willing to read them. Research tells us that there is a direct relationship between having books available, being read to, and learning to read. The Ohio Early Learning Standards ask that preschool children identify characters in a favorite book, retell or reenact events from a story, predict what might happen next in a book, understand the sequence of events in a story, and make connections between a story and personal experiences. The special books in this REC Bookshelf are all beautifully crafted stories, filled with lovely language and accompanied by quality illustrations. They will make you laugh, make you think, and make you say for certain that you’ll read each one again. These books provide windows to literacy for boys and girls, and teachers, too.Comprehension
Early readers are just beginning to learn about the reading process
and the strategies
that help them make sense of written language. Beginners develop a basic understanding of print, know how books work, self-monitor their own comprehension by asking and answering questions, and make connections with literary and informational texts. So ask the boys and girls to join you as you read aloud to them, model comprehension strategies, and talk together about what you all learn and enjoy inside the covers of a favorite book.Early Concepts
Colors, letters, wordsall are early concepts
that lead to later learning. A variety of experiences familiarizes boys and girls with such information and helps them understand how these concepts fit with other ideas and skills.Favorite Authors and Illustrators
Learning to love literature includes learning to recognize and appreciate special authors and illustrators. As boys and girls experience several books created by a particular author, they develop a schema for the topics or themes that the writer usually chooses to explore. As they find out more about the techniques an artist uses to design illustrations, they can identify those processes when they spot them in other titles. Exploring the work of a respected author or illustrator (sometimes one and the same person, as you will see below) deepens children’s understanding of what a good book looks like and sounds like, so they can search for other quality books.
The authors of the books in this column also illustrate their own stories. Nancy Tafuri, Eric Carle, and Lois Ehlert are all prolific writers with distinctive styles and many books to their credit. They have all been recognized as exemplary authors and received awards for their talents. And all of them have a strong passion and vision for writing and illustrating books that enrich the lives of young children. So make a “favorite stack” of the books listed below and share them with eager youngsters who want to learn more about those special people who have created their favoritesthe author-illustrators.Informational Text
Learning to read informational texts
requires different skills and strategies from those used when reading narratives. As young readers investigate special topics, they must slow down their reading rate so that they can take in and understand information, gather information from a variety of text features and graphic structures, and organize the information they acquire from a variety of sources. Boys and girls both seem to enjoy their first experiences in reading to learn.Language for LearningBooks That Strengthen Vocabulary
Language is the latch that opens the window to learning. And books, good books, books filled with rich and intriguing words, swing that window open wide. You know the kind of books that fit this description. They are the special ones that make you feel that you’re part of the story as you read it aloud to boys and girls whose eyes remain fixed on every page and whose bodies are still with anticipation.
The Ohio Early Learning Standards identify the following indicators as important for young children who are listening and learning and growing in their ability to enjoy the power of words:
- Understand the meaning of new words from the context of conversations and the use of illustrations in a picture book.
- Recognize environmental print.
- Demonstrate and communicate position and directional words, such as inside, outside, in front of, and behind.
- Determine the meaning of unknown words with assistance from an adult.
The books in this column tell a good story, introduce interesting new vocabulary, toss out a rhyme or two, and make you want to read that word, that phrase, that book again.Literacy Begins with Rhythm, Rhyme, and Song
Picture books that are filled with rhythm, rhyme, and song make story time fun and encourage children’s awareness of language and sounds. The members of the National Research Council, in Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success
, emphasize the importance of phonological awareness in this way: “When children achieve phonological awareness, they are able to think about how words sound, apart from what words mean. For example, they appreciate that the word 'kitchen' has two spoken parts (syllables), that the word 'bed' rhymes with 'bread,' and that the words 'cat' and 'king' begin with the same sound” (p. 9). They also state that children should develop some degree of phonological awareness in the preschool years as a critical step toward understanding the way letters and sounds work and, ultimately, toward learning to read. The books reviewed in this column are chock full of words that encourage the reader to continue the rhyme, language that bounces with rhythm, and songs that you just won't be able to get out of your head.Literacy Play with Predictable Texts
"It's time for a story!" Hopefully, this oft-repeated invitation for children to come to the carpet and listen to a book being read aloud is an activity that boys and girls look forward to and enjoy. This is a time for participation in a literacy community, tuning into the language of a text and then talking about the story with others. It’s an opportunity to learn new vocabulary and understand the thrill of making connections to a character or a setting. This is a time to hear an experienced reader share the printed page and encourage those who listen to try out those first skills and take those initial steps in becoming a literacy learner.
Predictable texts are those that have recurring language patterns, include the repetition of words or language elements, and exhibit a close alignment between pictures and text. The books reviewed in this column are filled with rhythm and rhyme as well as patterned and predictable language. Each story has a voice that makes children believe that learning to read is an exciting task.Literary Text
Children learn how to read by reading and being read to. They learn to love books by reading quality literature that engages their minds, excites their imaginations, and transports them to people and places around the world. Through interactions with literary texts
and conversations with adults and peers, boys and girls become familiar with the elements of literature (characters, setting, and plot), begin to compare and contrast stories, and learn to respond to text in critical and creative ways.Oral and Visual Communication
The preschool setting offers an initial opportunity for children to interact with adults outside of the home as well as with a diverse group of peers. It provides a vital space where young boys and girls practice speaking, present ideas and thoughts to others, and take turns in conversation. In preschool, children listen activelyto stories, to the talk of others, and to simple classroom directions. They participate in the recitation of poems and rhymes. The following books reinforce oral communication
through rhythm, rhyme, and the use of repetitive phrasing throughout the text.Phonemic Awareness
Rhyme, rhythm, and song provide lyrical ways for children to listen to sounds and learn phonemic awareness skills. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds in words, and it is important in both reading and writing. So get your fingers ready to snap and your feet ready to tap. Boys and girls are going to love these books!Playing with Words; Poetry in Preschool
Playing with words is natural for young children. Their minds and mouths enjoy the sounds and rhythms of poetry and rhyme. What better way to establish prereading skills than to listen to the musical lyrics of a familiar poem, repeat the words of a jump rope chant, or giggle through a silly rhyme. The following indicators are identified in the language arts section of the Ohio Early Learning Standards as important learnings for preschool children:
- Recognize familiar rhymes
- Hear sounds in words
- Differentiate between sounds that are the same and different
- Attend to speakers, stories, poems, and songs
- Participate in the recitation of books, poems, chants, songs, and nursery rhymes
So get your mouth ready to read, your fingers ready to snap, your body ready to wiggle, and your feet ready to stamp. It's always a party with poetry in preschool!Preschool Poetry: Rhythm, Rhyme, and Song
The genre of poetry, rich with language and rhyme, provides a seamless introduction to phonemic awareness and the recognition and identification of sounds. Young boys and girls are intrigued by the lyrical quality of poems, rhymes, and songsthey enjoy the way the words sound when they say them and the way their bodies seem to move to the beat of the words. The Ohio Early Learning Standards focus on matching sounds and on recognizing rhymes in familiar stories, poems, songs, and words; hearing sounds in words by isolating the syllables using snapping, clapping, or rhythmic movement; and differentiating between sounds that are the same and different. In this column, there are two books featuring haiku, a book based on an English lullaby, four titles that are collections of poems about a specific topic, a story written in verse, and a familiar nursery rhyme. So get your mouth ready for rhyme and your body ready to keep the beat in time. Poetry is perfect for preschool!Reading About Real Things: Nonfiction and Informational Books
During preschool years, boys and girls discover that books contain information about the world around them. From baby animals to fire trucks, children can follow any interest through the pages of a text. Nonfiction and informational books are organized differently and those text structures are important teaching points. As you share nonfiction and informational books, ask children to do the following:
- Use pictures and illustrations to aid comprehension and talk about what they see.
- Retell information from the informational text.
- Tell what the book is about after hearing it read aloud.
- Gain information from pictures, photographs, simple charts, and labels.
- Follow simple directions.
Reading about real things is not only appropriate but truly inviting for ever curious young children.Reading Is Understanding
Reading aloud to young children provides many opportunities to introduce various components of the literacy process.
- Listening to good literature promotes language acquisition and develops vocabulary.
- Boys and girls begin to comprehend text by connecting stories with prior knowledge and personal experiences.
- Taking “book walks” or looking through a text before reading it aloud encourages youngsters to make predictions and think about what might happen next in the story.
- The plot or happenings in a story can lead to dramatic play experiences.
- Retelling or acting out the story after reading increases understanding and builds comprehension.
Creating a literacy community in the classroom includes intentionally selecting good books, reading them with strategies that build understanding, encouraging discussion and exploration, and infusing all literacy experiences with joy and excitement. Loving to listen is a precursor to learning to read.Research
Young children are naturally curious. They want to investigate, to know more, and to find out. The topic might be something individual to a particular child, or perhaps a small group of boys and girls choose to follow an interest together. Sometimes, as part of a curriculum or standard, the entire class will learn more about a specific topic or theme. The research process
for preschool children should include asking questions and then searching for answers, using a variety of resources to gather information, documenting the learning in many waysretelling, acting out, playing, creating artwork, dictating thoughts, discussingand sharing the information with others.Sharing Favorite Stories in Preschool
"Please read that book again!" Teachers, parents and other "designated readers" hear this plea often from little ones who love to listen to their favorite stories over and over again. Reading to boys and girls intensifies their love of good literature, builds a vocabulary of story language, establishes an understanding of story structures, and sets the stage for future literacy learning.
One of the books listed below, Dog
, is a new favorite, sure to become an old favorite. Another text, Goldilocks and the Three Bears
, is a stylized version of the well-known fairytale. The remainder of the books include Caldecott Medal winners and Honor Books. Many have been read by more than one generation of book lovers and are still heralded today as stories that invite the request, "Please read that book again!"A to Z with Alphabet Books
There is an alphabet book for nearly any and every topic or theme. These books provide boys and girls with experiences with letters, sounds, and words that are important in the reading process. The Ohio Early Learning Standards include indicators stating that children should recognize and name some uppercase and lowercase letters, understand that words are made up of letters, and hear sounds in words. Alphabet books in this column introduce children to a variety of fruits and vegetables, share symbols that are significant to the Chinese New Year, explore words associated with gardening tasks and tools, explain simple cultural activities from countries in Asia, and introduce boys and girls to construction equipment for every letter. The books are filled with details that can only be seen if you take a long, careful look, and all are best understood when talked about with friends. So gather this collection of alphabet books, as different as they can be, and enjoy every one of them.Vocabulary
Children learn new vocabulary
through exposure to rich language in books and in conversations with adults and peers. The following lists of titles show examples of texts that provide opportunities for boys and girls to increase their vocabularies. When read these books, children hear positional and directional words, words that can be classified as animal names and noises, words related to the garden, construction equipment words, and words you would hear on a farm. The content of these books also addresses indicators for the Early Childhood Math and Science Standards.Word Wonder: Building Vocabulary with Books
Listening to a story with beautiful language read aloud, discussing the story with peers, talking with family and friends, and asking and answering questions are all important ways to develop vocabulary with young children. Quality literature is rich with words and pictures that stimulate imagination and conversation. The books in this column include many stories with vocabulary specific to special topics and themes, books with die-cut pages and interesting visual perspectives which inspire conversation, a story that focuses on the written language of notes and postcards, and books that are filled with language so lovely that boys and girls won't want the story to end. Words have the power to fill young minds with wonder.Writing
Reading and writing
are reciprocal processesyou can't have one without the other. This interdependence comprises one principal understanding of early literacy: that what you think can be written down and others can read it. Young children are just beginning to learn about the power of letters and words and how to use writing to communicate. Important thoughts to share with boys and girls at this early stage include the following:
- We can write about anything we want to communicate to others.
- Children can dictate their ideas to you. You can write the ideas down, and together you can read the words.
- Authors have a purpose for why they want to write and an idea of who their audience might be and what they want to say.
- It's worthwhile to play at writing, to make squiggles that resemble letters, and to practice moving the writing implement across the page.