This is how it works. Each month I send a list of four contenders to a half dozen of our guest contributors that are caregivers of or regularly work with K-2nd grade students. I do my best to select a variety of levels and topics for readers at different stages of the learning to read process. Each of the titles highlighted in this post will be covered by guest contributors at some point this year. The focus of this series is on the experiences and observations from kid readers and their grown-up contributors.
A big shout out to Jamie Chowning, DaNae Leu, Samantha Marino, and Stacey Rattner for all their hard work sharing, observing, and collecting feedback from the kids in their lives. This month 61 kids participated nationwide. Most were 2nd graders and they read just one or two titles.
|Noodleheads Find |
21 kids read the third installment of Noodlehead adventures, which was the longest and most challenging of the books on this month’s list. I wondered if this might deter some readers, but it seems my fears were unfounded. One grown up contributor wrote, “I think the wordplay is at a just-right level--it’s enough of a challenge that they are still thinking about it later, but doesn’t interrupt their reading.”
Most kids found the graphic novel layout easy to follow and nearly all the kids said they enjoyed the book and would read it again. Even a few kids who needed help sounding out 6-10 words enjoyed it and said they would read it a second time. Some words that tripped up readers included, Noodleheads, taught, also, bean. Two readers asked their grown up to bring home more books in the series.
The details in the text and illustrations seemed to have been memorable for many kids:
- “I like that the fish tricked the noodleheads that she was the biggest when she was just a normal fish.”
- “I like how they learn a lesen [sic] about fishing.”
- “We liked how the fish tricked the noodles.”
- “Liked the part where they took a map.”
One child particularly loved that both characters are named Mac for macaroni and was excited to realize that the only way to tell them apart was shirt color.
|Good Dog book cover|
It cannot be denied that books with cute animals on the covers generally have kid appeal. But I wondered about this title, would the lack of repetition and placement of the text on the page prevent new readers from having a successful reading experience?
26 kids read this title with several written in comments along the lines of, “I like the hole [sic] thing!!!!!!!” On the other hand, there were several kids who seemed less enthused, giving the book only one or two stars out of five. Since most of the kids were in 2nd grade, it seems not many words challenged them. However, a few struggled with 1-5 words and one reader in particular got hung up on hungry, sad, good, Rufus (a person thanked on the dedication page), and Doerrfeld.
It seems the pictures, especially of the cute dog, were super attractive to many kids. Nearly all the comments were about things that happened in the illustrations, such as:
- “I liked that the dog was super silly and funny.”
- “When the dog got the tedy [sic] bear and helped it.”
- “I liked the pictures.”
- “Because the dog was cute. I like the pictures.”
- “Didn’t like the guy that chases the dog away.”
Dog books are abundant this year (or maybe I should say, every year?). Some kids who also read Bark Park for last month’s What Kids Say post seemed initially to prefer that dog-filled book to this one. But in the days following their first read of Good Dog they asked for it multiple times. It would be interesting to present readers with several dog/cute animal contenders at once and see how they react and what they choose to read first.
|Nobody's Duck book cover|
24 kids read this crowd-pleaser, with most kids saying they’d read it again and/or read a sequel. Several kids wrote on their feedback sheets that they loved “all the quacking.”
Other kid comments included:
- “It was bomb.
- “It’s funny, funniest on earth, the thinking cap is great.”
- “I liked when the duck went go-karting.”
- “I lrd Ducks are Crase [sic]” (I’m guessing this means: I learned ducks are crazy)
On the other hand, two kid readers pointed out that the duck was a “liar pants” because the duck said they didn’t belong to anyone, but actually the duck belongs to the alligator.
The cover art was especially attractive, and the illustrations overall were observed to be a strength, “My kids lingered over the sky diving and race track” wrote one grown up contributor.
A grown up contributor noted that the “slightly complicated layout makes this a good choice for a kid who CAN read longer and more difficult books but is in the mood to relax rather than a very new reader.” The same contributor noted that her six-year-old missed the punchline, but her seven-year-old got it right away. However, even though the six-year-old didn’t quite get the humor of the ending, they enjoyed doing different voices for the duck and alligator, a great indicator of reading fluency.
Finally, there weren’t many words that tripped up kid readers, but this may have been because the majority of this month’s kid readers are in second grade. Most kids only needed help sounding out a word 1-5 times. Interestingly, the word “whose” was problematic for a couple readers.
Overall, this title seems to have a ton of kid appeal, in a large part due to the brightly colored, cartoonish illustrations. It would be interesting to try this book with newer readers to see how they interact with it.
|Fox is Late book cover|
The humor of this book really shined for the 25 kids who read it. “It was so funny!” wrote one reader.
None of the kids who read this book needed help sounding out any words. This could be because it’s one of the easier books featured this month or because nearly all kids who read this time around were 2nd graders. However, I also think it’s notable that even though kids read it with ease it gained near universal approval from our readers. One grown up contributor wrote, “My impression is that Fox is Late was a big hit.”
The skateboard tricks were also a big hit with kids:
- “I liked the flip.”
- “He did tricks.”
- “He did cool tricks.”
- “I liked the part when he did a trick. I did not like when he was late.
Several readers liked the line about arriving just in time for lunch. Other readers liked the animals. Some liked both!
- “I like it because it has lunch.”
- “I like it because it has animals.”
- “I like that the fox eats and that the book has animals.”
I’d love to see how newer readers feel about this title. Would kindergarten or 1st graders have an equally successful reading experience?
So that’s what kids have to say this month! What are your kids saying about these books? Let us know in the comments. Also, you can use the comments to let us know if there are any titles you’d like us to cover in future installments of What Kids Say.