I definitely understand the place of leveled books in primary classrooms. Kids need books they can read to move forward as readers. But, I think that as a nation, we have forgotten that there are so many great books--quality children's literature--that supports new readers in the same way that leveled books do. So, I have been adding to my collection of books that are perfect for new readers--books to have in the classroom that serve the same purpose as leveled books; books that young readers can read on their own because the supports are there for them.
I've picked up 3 new books in the last few weeks that fit this category.
WHAT WILL FAT CAT SIT ON? by Jan Thomas is definitely one o my new favorites. The text is very predictable as readers watch as the cat decides where to sit (Will Fat Cat sit on...the CHICKEN?) The illustrations are perfect. The facial expressions on all of the animals add to the story and the colors are quite fun. This is one of those books that I can't keep close to me--everyone I show it to keeps it or passes it along to someone else. Every class that has heard it has quickly determined it is a class favorite. A definite must for Pre-K-1 classrooms. I must say that reading it aloud to kids has that same feel that DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS! has. It is fun for kids and fun for the adult reader too!
Today, I picked up Emily Gravett's new book MONKEY AND ME. I am becoming a huge Gravett fan so this was an easy decision. She is brilliant. This book consists of very simple texts that repeats, great picture support and great possibilities for predictions.
NEVER TAKE A SHARK TO THE DENTIST ( AND OTHER THINGS NOT TO DO) by Judi Barrett. You know Judi Barret from CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS and ANIMALS SHOULD DEFINITELY NOT WEAR CLOTHING. This book is just as fun! There is only one line of text per page and each one tells the reader about something they should never do. For example, one page tells you to "Never hold hands with a lobster." The thing I like best about this book for new readers is that the illustration next to the text provides the "why" for the statement. If the reader is not sure why the statement would cause problems, the illustration explains the reasons. (For example, in the picture accompanying the lobster statement, you see many animals who HAVE done this and now have hands wrapped in bandages, swollen paws, etc. The simple predictable text and picture support is perfect for young readers.
I think that it is CRITICAL that we get over this leveled book craze that has gone too far and get real books back into the hands of our children. These are three that fit this mission!