Lower School Reading Philosophy
Lower School Summer Reading Program
The goal of summer reading in the Collegiate Lower School is to continue building a student’s love of and skill in reading. For young children (emergent and early readers) the enthusiastic, guiding adult and interesting, engaging texts are the primary inspiration for learning to read well. As children grow older (fluent readers) they can read on their own but continue to need a mature mentor to encourage their reading. For these reasons, the Collegiate Lower School Summer Reading List is grounded in three different types of reading experiences: Reading Together, Learning to Read, and Reading to Learn.
Reading Together Books
These are high quality picture books, meritorious chapter books, and children’s non-fiction – contain well-developed characters and settings; lively and resonant language; artistic illustrations; engaging plots; interesting, up-to-date information; and/or relevant life lessons. When the enthusiastic and guiding adult reads aloud to children and talks conversationally about the texts, he/she provides several important functions that the child cannot yet provide for him/herself. First, the adult reader can read more fluently and with greater expression, enlivening the text and creating appeal for the listener. Second, the adult reader can read more complex books exposing children to more advanced vocabulary and higher-level understanding. Finally, the reading adult provides the model of a competent, enthusiastic reader that is crucial to a child’s growth into that role. In the early grades, adults routinely read and enjoy books with their young children. Continuing this family traditions as children grow can also bring rewards as more members of the family can read aloud and more complex books and series can be explored. Use the more relaxed summer schedule to introduce this form of togetherness to your family.
Learning to Read Books
These are books that children can read to an interested and guiding adult. They are a primary component of the first, second, and third grade lists. Learning to Read books are written to teach children how to read by limiting the vocabulary, spelling patterns, word structures, and print-to-illustration ratio, depth of characters, and plot development. These books are very useful for students to practice how to read, but they are not, as a rule, satisfying to the young child’s developing mind. In the intermediate grades, learning to read means learning new vocabulary and understanding the layers of meaning in a text. Books can be read to oneself or to an audience; parents may want to read the book simultaneously with children so the books can be discussed. When parents model questioning the text (e.g. “I can’t figure out why Haggar hid his wand” or “I wonder if we’ll see Sharon again in the next chapter?”) children learn that interpretations differ and it is usual to have questions about what one has read.
Reading to Learn Books
To build independence in reading, children need to select books that interest them and to practice reading on their own. Many children who are independent readers have already become attached to favorite authors or series, carry books anticipating an opportunity to read, and naturally converse about something they have read. Reading to Learn books can also be read together as a family – take turns reading and/or talk about the book after each section, or listen to an audio-book while traveling. Reading to Learn books should always match the reader’s interests. In the primary grades, Reading to Learn books can be chosen from the Learning to Read list or the Reading Together list. The intermediate grades provide lists of Authors of Merit and of Battle of the Books from which students can choose their Reading to Learn books.
Reading Together, Learning to Read, and Reading to Learn books can be found in every genre (for example, non-fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, or poetry) and in any format (picture books, illustrated books, chapter books, graphic novels). There are “classics” – works that your parents may have read as a child – and “favorites” of young children of certain ages. Books can be purchased, borrowed from the local library, or listened to in the car on the way to a vacation destination.
We hope that these guidelines will help you guide and support your child to read this summer in ways that will create a lifelong love of reading.