Literacy Resources for Parents

Early Literacy Skills
Below are five skills children need to be readers. These are "Big Ideas" because they are predictive of reading acquisition and later reading achievement, we can teach them, and teaching them improves outcomes for children. Click on each skill below to find ways you can help your child's learning! If some of the terms below are unfamiliar, check out this glossary of literacy terms or this more comprehensive glossary of reading terms. *New in March 2013*, apps have been added to the table. For a full list including descriptions and prices, click here.

Skill  What it isResources for helping your child with it
 Phonemic Awareness The ability to hear and manipulate sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.- This bookmark tells more about how to build your child's phonological awareness skills so he/she can learn to identify and manipulate sounds and larger parts of language. 
 - In kindergarten, students learn animals and gestures to go along with each letter and sound. Help them practice these to build phonemic awareness and phonics skills!
 Sound Sorts App
 PhonicsThe idea that letters represent sounds. A big difference between strong readers and those who struggle is the ability to use letter-sound correspondences to decode words.- To help children recall the sounds each letter makes, here are two charts that show the letter(s) with corresponding pictures (2009, Fountas & Pinnell).
- Teaching the letter sounds is only one part of phonics instruction. There are a lot of phonic patterns we teach in school as well (e.g., blends, digraphs, silent or magic "e") - for more information on that these are the Reading A to Z website is a good resource. You can reinforce this at home by reading decodable books with your child; books that include phonics patterns the child has already been exposed to (like these, written by teachers). A sentence like "I can hop on pop" is decodable to young readers whose phonics skills are developing while, "People laugh at jokes" is not.
  Phonics Genius App
 Fluency with Text Ability to read text quickly, accurately, and with expression (NRP p.3-5). - The best way to improve reading fluency is to spend time reading, even re-reading text. This bookmark tells more about what fluency is and how to improve it. Click here for more on the importance of reading at least 20 minutes per day.
- The more they read, the more "sight words" they know - these are words they can recognize automatically, allowing them to focus more attention on reading accurately, with expression, and for meaning. This bookmark tells more about sight words. 
  One Minute Reader App (includes comprehension practice)
 ComprehensionUnderstanding what you have read. The goal of learning to read: reading to learn.- Understanding text involves a multitude of skills and these are different for students who are reading at lower versus higher levels. Among other things, we teach students to use pictures (like doing a picture walk), sequence story events, tell the main idea, character, or setting, make connections, summarize, retell, take various characters or authors' perspective, etc... all in efforts to help them understand increasingly complex text written in a variety of styles. This bookmark reminds students of some of these strategies as they read.
- As students' ability to make meaning from what they read increases, they can also start using comprehension strategies to decode unknown words, like in this bookmark.
- Two bookmarks (one for younger children, one for older ones) provide guides to retelling.
 1st Grade Reading Comprehension App (Basic Skills Interactive)
 Vocabulary  The knowledge of words and what they mean.The more vocabulary words children know, the better they can comprehend what they read, and the wider the range of books they can access. A rich vocabulary improves students’ ability to communicate through speaking, listening, and writing. There is no one best way to teach children new vocabulary words, but here are some strategies that can help: identifying synonyms and antonyms, giving examples and nonexamples, and relating words to one’s own life. The more they read or are read to, the more students are exposed to new vocabulary!

Reading Appropriate Level Text
In Saline as in many school district across the state and country, we use a book leveling system and assessment called Fountas and Pinnell to ensure students are reading at a level optimal for learning. The levels are organized according to letters. For each letter level, this document (adapted from AAPS) provides: an explanation of the text features, some book titles, sample activities to go along with each level, and the grade expectations for each level. Here is another explanation of text levels from Sachem Literacy Coaches. This leveled book list compiled by one school has more leveled titled organized by grade, author, and/or title.

Many of the literacy skills outlined above are taken into consideration to determine  the level at which a child can read independently, best learn (instructional), or show frustration. A key skill we teach students in school is how to select appropriate level text. Practicing reading books at his/her independent level (or "just right") at home will help your child build confidence, fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. A quick and easy method for determining whether a book is too difficult for your child is the "Five Finger Rule." 

 LevelWhen/how to read it   What  reading at this level looks like
 Independent or "Just Right"Pleasure reading should take place on this level in order to continue to build comprehension, accuracy and fluency. Ask your child's teacher for your child's independent reading level and select books on or below that level.- 95% or greater accuracy and comprehension
- Reads in longer phrases and uses expression when reading
- Retells the story including many or most story details, uses character names, and includes most important events in the correct sequence. Requires few or no prompts from the teacher.
- "Five Finger Rule" explanation
- "Five Finger Rule" bookmark
Instructional or "Learning Level" This is the level at which your child reads at school in his/her small reading groups.- 91-94% accuracy and/or comprehension
- Fluency may be in short or longer phrases
- Retells the story including some of the story details, uses generic names for characters (e.g., he/she or "the boy"), and includes some events in correct sequence. Requires several prompts from the teacher.
 Frustration The book is too difficult and could frustrate your child. Try reading the book to your child.- 90% or lower accuracy and comprehension
- Oral reading may be in short phrases or word-by-word (starts and stops or is "choppy")
- Has difficulty retelling the story's important events; may need many prompts to retell the story