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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Board books: Three a day keeps the reading specialist away

September 27, 2013

That's essentially what I write in every card as I hand over a stack of board books to expectant mom friends: "Three a day keeps the reading specialist away." After a chuckle and a roll of the eyes, my Mom-to-be friends add our tried and true board book titles to the pile of baby gifts and toys. But I'm happy, knowing that those board books will be loved and chewed on for years to come. My standard stack includes Jamberry, which taught us all a rhyme we can STILL recite, "One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry," Mrs. Wishy Washy, whose wishy-washy rhythm had my very young daughter waving her chubby little hand to help "wash" the animals, and Good Night Gorilla, a book my husband loved to read to the girls the most. (His use of different voices made it so fun for all who listened.) As you can see, my stack doesn't include usual suspects such as Goodnight Moon, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Those wonderful titles are also must-haves, but I like to share our own family favorites for something different. Most people have their favorite board books (and memories that go along with them!) Here are a few ideas in case you too are looking to share the love of reading with friends and babies: New York Times Board Book Round Up article and slideshow A list from Parents Magazine A fun list with an eye towards design Must-haves from the School Library Journal


I am also a teacher and a writer, plus an avid reader of children's books. I am familiar with these books as picture books, but have not seen them as board books, though they are making more and more picture books into board book versions. Jamberry is one of my favorites as well. As far as picture books go, Pete the Cat books are really fun, and Rumble in the Jungle.

Books that rhyme are great for phonemic awareness and reading to kids is a great way to give them a head start and get them ready to read in school. But all kids are different, are ready at different ages, learn at different paces, and need instruction in different ways. Therefore, reading to your children does not guarantee an early or "good" reader, but a love of books and stories helps in all aspects of school. With government agencies, not trained professional teachers, deciding that kids should all be at the same level at the same time, it is easy to forget that all students will not be at the same level at the same time and that we need to let kids learn at their level, read when their ready, and help them if they are having trouble.

I too find that the title could be somewhat misleading but I perceived it to pertain to the average child that does not show signs of any disability. I read/read to my son daily as well; he also struggles with reading, but we are finding out now that he has some auditory processing issues. Language deficits can highly impact a child's ability to read with fluency and definitely affect the comprehension. However, now that we are informed on what's going on, we continue to implement other prescribed interventions along with the 3 a-day! Thanks for your tips. Every little bit helps.

I understand the frustration for the mother (and the son) and respect the response from Kate. I would look into having my son retested if I were in the same situation. As Kate suggested, "he may have been too young for the gap to occur between capabilities and achievement." I assess and teach children with Dyslexia and run into the same issue while testing. The revised Dyslexia Handbook from the Texas Education Agency is a great resource as well as the International Dyslexia Association. If you are looking for teaching resources and tools, I would suggest Neuhaus Education Center's website.

Helen, There are many reasons why your son may be lagging behind in reading. There could be a visual and/or phonological component that needs to be addressed in order for him to read unknown words and to be able to store words so that he can automatically retrieve them. Not knowing what type of testing was done, he may have been too young for the "gap" to occur between his capabilities and achievement which often is used to determine a learning disability in reading, which can also be labeled dyslexia. If your son is able to read and retrieve the words with little problem, but is not connecting with what is being read, then that could be an underlying attention, memory, or language issue. I'm sure at this point you have connected with a reading specialist who may have communicated the weaknesses to you and is working with your son to build his level. At this point, if the issue is reading the words, take heart that the reading you have done with him has built his vocabulary which is key to academic success. Try to keep reading as an enjoyable activity where you and he discuss what has been read. Best wishes!

I hate comments such as the one used for the title of this article. My son, who is nine, has a reading level equivalent to that of a 6 year old. He has progressed very, very slowly with reading at school. At the age of seven we had him tested for dyslexia, and the test results showed he does not have it. Despite the fact that I have read EVERY day and several books a day to him since he was two months old, he struggles with reading and writing. So please do not use misleading information as you have used in your "article" here.

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"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges