At 3, our child had learned the alphabet and was beginning to understand phonics. She, however, couldn’t read by herself so we would read to her as she would look at pictures in the picture book.
At 4, she recognized sight words, although she still could not completely read (small sentences) by herself – so we would co-read with her every night at bedtime. (Many children we know were reading small sentences by this age and while we are not parents who compare milestones, I must admit we were beginning to wonder if we’re on the right track when it comes to reading).
We saw her going from not really having as much of a preference on what she wants to read to having specific interests in what books she would like to pick up at the library or bookstore. We read somewhere that this was a good age to introduce children to both fiction and non-fiction books (more in order to contribute to reading preferences than the actual books).
While choosing books (and then while co-reading), we did face some challenges in the choice of books. For example, our daughter would love to pick fairy tales at the bookstore (the books looked inviting) – but when we would co-read, we realized how these (otherwise wonderful) stories were a bit out of sync with recent times. I don’t think I had batted an eyelid while reading Rapunzel while I was growing up. But today, as we encourage our children to ask questions and exercise logical thinking, these fairy tales suddenly seem inappropriate. So how do I explain (I would think), Sleeping Beauty sleeping for a-100-years only to wake up by the kiss of Prince Charming or that Rapunzel lets in a Prince Charming into her tower every time her mother (the witch) would go out. We decided we would give the fairy tales a skip.
Here are some book and series that our daughter loved reading:
• Bubble, Pepper, Bruno series books: Picture Books with interesting animal characters Bubble, Pepper, and Bruno – with anecdotes encouraging good behavior (e.g. – how Bubbles should share things at his birthday party or how Pepper helped a new neighbor make new friends).
• Charlie and Lola series: The collage patterns were eye catching and the bold letters, single lined pages were easy to co-read. Since the book is about siblings and is a child’s narrative – it has a great hook for a child to read.
• The Cat in the Hat series: Apart from The Cat in the Hat being a crazy fun character, the book has easy rhyming sentences that make an interesting read (and also help in the understanding of sounds and blend words).
• Curious George: The complete adventures of Curious George is a great theme for children – a mix of mischief, gentle reprimand, and fun – with easy/small sentences that the child can read.
• Our daughter also enjoyed reading a lot of interactive, pull-out, pop-up books at this stage (especially at 3).