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Monday, August 26, 2013

Easy Readers: Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie

It can be hard to find compelling easy readers for "just beginners." As vocabularies expand, of course, a whole new world of books will open up to a child, but for the first bit, the bit where it is C-A-T=cat and sounding out every word can be laborious, it is easy for kids to get lost and bored and learn to loathe and dread reading or at least find it tedious. A lot of reading programs are very drill/repetition intensive and only very slowly get to anything resembling a story. We went through several of these (which you  can read about here) before we found Hooked On Phonics. One reason I think this curriculum worked so well for Coryn was that in the very first lesson she can read a real story. Yes it only uses words that end in "at," but combined with the pictures it was a STORY! Once she realized reading would enable her to read stories and not just lists of words, something clicked, and she has been on fire ever since.



That said, there aren't a ton of stories that first time readers can muscle through and while Coryn is ambitious (she is always asking to read books above her level), she can get frustrated and sometimes asks me "just to read it" when things get too hard. 

I was a little skeptical of the Mo Willems Elephant & Piggie series when I saw them because, and this may seem like sacrilege to all those who adore his "Pigeon" series and Knuffle Bunny and whatever else he has written), I find his books silly verging on stupid. They seem too simplistic, too dependent on comic strip like drawings.

However, what makes a poor picture book (in my opinion, you are welcome to love his works. I just don't.) makes for excellent easy readers. 

Elephant & Piggie books are simplistic and silly, but that is actually their strength. They tell, in very few words, a very funny story. 

Coryn was not in a posing mood
The first book we tried was Can I Play Too?


The first time we read it Coryn was nearly hysterical with giggles. The story (told in easy reader words and a few new sight words I had to help her with) is Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie playing catch when their friend snake wants to join in, but snake does not have arms. Can a snake, with no arms, play catch? 

(There is actually a little bit of a lesson in here about accommodating friends with disabilities, but if this is not something your child is dealing with, it reads more like a funny story than a morality tale)

We ended up finding that our library had five or six more of these titles. Coryn wanted to get every single one, but I made her pick out three.

I looked on amazon and there are a ton volumes in this series. I highly recommend them if you have an easy reader who likes humorous tales and likable characters.


Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot

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