Thanks to one of our readers for seeking advice for this great problem. Great problem, you ask? Yup…it’s a great problem to have a child that is an advanced reader! Here’s our reader’s question posted as a comment on our last post about advanced readers:
I have a second grade daughter reading at a 4-5 grade level. She devours chapter books at a rate of 1-2 per day. She is tested on these books and her comprehension is incredible. She’ll read 4 books, test on them and not confuse story lines or content. I am in awe. The problem is I want to challenge her-but many books in her level are not age appropriate. What can you suggest-titles or activities?
A child who loves to read so much that she/he devours books at record speeds is a wonderful thing indeed! Yet it can be quite challenging for parents to keep up! How far ahead should I let them read? Should I keep some books off limits? How do I keep him/her engaged and interested without exposing them to innapropriate content? The questions go on and on.
As I started to write a response with suggestions on things you can do as a parent, I remembered an article I read a while back that did a great job addressing this issue. So instead of reinventing the wheel, I strongly encourage you to check this article out because it has great ideas on choosing books for your advanced reader along with some suggested titles.
Along with Bochan’s great ideas, I’ll add my own suggestions for some series titles:
- Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time trilogy is one of my favorites!
- American Girl History Mysteries series are written by different authors and explore American histories from a fictionalized young girl’s perspective. While not necessarily humerous, they are mysteries which are a bit more complex in language than the Magic Tree House books.
- Backyard Wonders series by Nancy MacCoon is great for kids curious about animals and natural history.
- Five Ancestors books by Jeff Stone (Crane, Snake, Tiger, Monkey, and Dragon). It’s the same story set in China, told from 5 different character’s points of view. The author even has a cool site that shares history, activities, and news that relate to the books.
- The Misadventures of Inspector Moustachio by Wayne Madsen. I havent’ read this one yet , but it is highly recommended for avid readers. Here’s B&N’s synopsis: A riveting tale that is full of adventure, suspense and humor. This book will hold particular appeal to children ages 8 to 12 who want something more engaging and compelling than what typical chapter books offer their age group. Already being endorsed by educational professionals, The Case Of Stolen Time will become a classic favorite of children and educators alike!
In addition to choosing great titles, you may also want to consider doing some pre, during, and post reading activities with your child to extend their experiences with the books they love. I’m currently working on more lengthy articles to share specific ideas with you, so stayed tuned!
Our main goal here at Reading Coach is to give parents the knowledge to teach their children how to read – whether your child is homeschooled, goes to public school, or private. Since we are a relatively new site, we still have loads of content that has yet to be added. Most of what we have up now is geared towards helping your child learn to read. However, in the coming months I hope to add more to our site that helps children read to learn. This will be for kids that have a solid foundation of the basic reading skills in place and as a result, read pretty well. All they need now is to improve upon those skills so they can go beyond “simple reading” to understanding and learning about the things that interest them and about the world around them. Therefore, the focus will be on continuing to expand vocabulary, improve and/or build comprehension, and challenge their thinking in fun and engaging ways. So stay tuned for future additions to these sections!
In the meantime, one of our readers asked for advice on what to do with his daughter (a first grader) that reads above grade level at school. He’d like some tips for things they can do at home with her to challenge her a bit and keep her love of reading alive. So here are some tips for all of you out there that would like to do the same for your advanced readers:
- Have Higher Level Books Available:This one may seem like a no-brainer…and it is. But I’d like to highlight the importance of just making the books available for your child to read, not necessarily asking or requiring your child to read them. It’s amazing to see the choices your child will make on their own when they have the freedom to choose above (and sometimes below) their level. So stock up your shelves with a variety of selections and provide the opportunity for them to explore and choose.
- Go Beyond The Classroom: Get involved in what your child is reading at school by asking your child’s teacher about the themes and stories they are reading in class. You can then take that information to the library (or even online) to get books and stories that are related to what they are learning, but provide more of a challenge for your child. Do this only if your child shows interest in the topic – pushing your child to learn more about something they don’t care about won’t help!
- Do Extention Activities: Start a project at home to extend what they’re learning in school. Is your child learning about plants? Have them read about growing a garden and then get started on one as a family project! Is she learning about the solar system? Have her read about the stories behind the constellations and how they got their names. Then maybe she can check out the night sky to create her own constellation and a story to go along with it. Or maybe your child can create an alternate ending to a book or story they’re reading in class. Get creative!
- Read Aloud To Them: I’m sure you already do this…but try to focus on reading books that are really advanced for your child. Advanced readers sometimes hesitate to read tougher books by themselves (especially if they are younger), but they thrive on listening to books with advanced vocabulary. Chapter books are great for this! These books will serve to challenge your child by exposing them to words, ideas, and plots that are more complex. This will also really help their writing too!
- Do Paired Reading with Chapter Books: If your child shows interest in harder chapter books but isn’t quite ready to read them on their own, you can do partner readings with your child. A great way to do this is to start reading the book to your child and then have them slowly start taking turns with you. They can take a turn reading a paragraph or a page to you, then maybe a couple of pages, a chapter, and so on. Pretty soon, they’ll want to read them on their own!
- Discuss What They Read: Asking questions to check for comprehension is fine, but what I’m talking about here is having a full blown discussion about what your child is reading. Go beyond the simple who, what, where, when, why detail type questions and move to discussion-starting questions and comments like: “I wonder how Mary felt when Christie said that?”, “What do you think about how he solved that problem – How would you have handled that situation?”, “Why do you think the author ended the book this way?”, “Does that remind you of something/someone in your life?”, “Is this like any other book/story you’ve read – How is it different/alike?”, etc. Details can be important, but you want to teach your child to go beyond them to actually THINK about what they read.
- Pair Fiction With Nonfiction: Doing this not only helps to broaden your child’s understanding of things, but it also helps to give them a depth of knowledge in the topic. For example, have your child read Verdi (fiction) and then read Slinky, Scaly, Slithery Snakes (non-fiction) to get a better understanding about snakes.
- Get Them A Magazine Subscription: Kids love to get mail with their names on it! There are tons of educational magazines out there to choose from (you can even pick different grade levels) . Let your child help you pick one out that would interest them.
- Focus on Quality not Quantity: Schools often reward kids for the number of books read or for completing a certain list. Although that’s completely okay, you can take the opportunity to teach your child the value of reading a good book for the pleasure of it and for what they’ll learn from it rather than “to read as much as possible”. You can focus on some classics or share some books that you really enjoyed as a kid.
There are many things you can do to challenge your kids at home. Just remember to keep it fun and to use their interests to lead the way! We’d love to have other parents share what works for them! What are some things you do to help challenge your child at home?