I found a reader online which introduced new words one at a time, feeding them into the text and then making sentences with them.  I absolutely LOVED the idea for my kids….I have to teach meaning as well as phonics in order for them to be able to read and understand what they’re reading, so books with even 15 or 20 words in them can feel overwhelming at times!  (And if I feel overwhelmed, how must my poor kiddos feel?!)  The idea of teaching a single word, using it in context, then teaching another, using it in context while repeating the first, teaching another, using it in context while repeating the first two….the idea is something of a relief, actually.  🙂

Of course graded readers rely heavily on sight words, which is something I’ve been wanting to introduce more of in my classrooms.  (100 words which make up half the literature they’ll ever read?  You can’t go wrong with that!)

Amazon has some lovely readers that do just that: one word at a time, they build whole stories while constantly practicing words that have gone before.  I must admit, I started drooling when I saw them!

Unfortunately, they’re a bit pricey (worth it, definitely! but, you know, pricey.).  Also, I would have to order them online, and with international shipping what it is, in first place, the cost would be ridiculous (last time I tried to order a couple of books, the shipping total was something like $60….definitely out of my price range!!) and, in second place, by the time they get here, my kids would be graduated!

And, I know, I know, it’s an investment in the future; every class I’ll ever have would benefit from those books.  But I want something I can use in the meantime.  As in, now.  With the kids I have.

Sooooo, I started thinking….am I a writer, or am I a writer??  (Well, I was a writer, before I came to Peru to be a missionary.  I haven’t written since then, unless you count lesson plans.  I’ve written lots and lots and LOTS of those!)

So, I decided to start making my own graded readers!  I am using the same format I saw in the Amazon books and the other reader (I wish I could remember what the other reader was called, but I lost it somewhere in one of my thousand and one browser tabs, and never found it again): introducing a single word, using it, adding another, using it, building, repeating, growing.

I finished my first reader yesterday.  (If you’re curious, you can see it here at my TPT store.)  It’s kind of a weird hybrid; it uses mainly words that my students in particular will need to know next month when we start our A Beka reading circles.  But, at the same time, the words it uses from my curriculum list are mainly those which are also found on the Dolch nouns list or the Fry list.  (You won’t, for example, find the word “tot” or “lad” here, in spite of the fact that my kids need to practice them because they’re going to be reading them pretty soon.)  It’s also heavy on sight words, something that I want to start using more in my classroom.

To illustrate the book, I used clipart sets from the lovely Nicole Rethmeier, of Jolie Designs.  She’s been making me clipart from my A Beka word lists, and it certainly came in handy for this project!   A few pictures that weren’t on my word lists I added in from English Unite, which also has lovely clipart.

Now my problem is, how exactly am I going to use it in the classroom?  Printing off a copy for each student is definitely out of my price range right now.  And reading with them one by one would be too time-consuming.  I have some ideas, but that will be for another blog post.  🙂

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