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mar6767m
mar6767m asks:
Q:

Should my 4 year old be listening to books that a 2nd or 3rd grader can read?

Question: My daughter is 4.5. Her pre-K teacher claims that a child her age should understand books that a 2 or 3-grader can read themselves. She suggested Magic Tree House, which we tried but the vocabulary was to much for her. Also, the teacher suggested Juny B Jones, which is a great series, but has a lot of humor that is not appropriate for a 4.5 year-old, in my opinion (I mean, how is 4.5 year-old going to interpret "I hate school" -- literaly, right?).
Any thoughts from educators about this teacher's impression that a 4-old's should be listening to books that a child who is in 2nd or 3rd grade can read? Thanks.
In Topics: Helping my child with reading
> 60 days ago

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Danielle
Danielle , Parent writes:
Hi Mary,<br />
I have a 4.5 year old boy and I have to say, some of those books present a challenge! When I read him Magic Treehouse, I skip over some of the phrases. I think it's understandable that you wouldn't want to read &quot;I hate school&quot;, or some of the obnoxious things the kids in the books say to each other, and neither do I. I figure, my son has plenty of time to learn how to be rude-- no need to rush him along! That said, I do think that it's important to stretch your kid a bit. It's tempting sometimes when I'm busy to stick to picture books, but I do find that my son is ready for longer chapter books. I'd recommend &quot;My Father's Dragon&quot; (you can read a review in the gift guide we just did) or Nate the Great. Both of these are more appropriate for younger kids.<br />
> 60 days ago

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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hi Mary,<br />
No one knows your daughter like you do so I think you're right to tailor her reading program to suit her needs. &nbsp;At this age the very most important thing is that she develops a love of books and reading. &nbsp;Forcing her to listen to stories she doesn't like or doesn't understand probably won't help much with that goal. &nbsp;I agree with Danielle that one good trick is to read those more advanced stories with a heavy dose of &quot;mom editing&quot; (skip long descriptive paragraphs, replace long words with shorter ones, change or leave out phrases you don't think she should hear, etc).<br />
<br />
My best advice (as the mom of a 5.5 year old) is to keep re-introducing books. &nbsp;I first tried the Magic Tree House books when my son was almost 5 and he sort of &quot;suffered&quot; through the first one. &nbsp;(He didn't ask me to stop reading but he was pretty wiggly the whole time I read!) &nbsp;Now (less than a year later) we can't get to the library often enough to get new Magic Tree House books...we're going through 2 or 3 of them a week and he loves them!<br />
> 60 days ago

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Danielle
Danielle , Parent writes:
The weird thing is that my son actually loved the &quot;Magic Tree House&quot; books-- even though he didn't really know what was going on always, since the vocabulary was advanced. At his request, we read the first 19 of them when he was just over 4. But then he lost interest and we moved back to picture books for awhile. A few of the reading experts we interviewed here for articles mentioned that this is really common, as kids get closer to reading on their own. Going back to picture books at times might seem worrying to parents after they're used to reading longer books (I was a little worried), but supposedly it lets kids eyeball some smaller words and start to figure out how to read them. On the flip side, I really think that interspersing that with chapter books really helped my son learn new words and stretch his vocabulary. I think it's good to do what Kat suggested and &quot;edit&quot;, by substituting in less advanced vocabulary or cutting longer passages-- or skipping sections altogether. But I also think it's good to throw in some of those bigger words and then a little definition right afterwards, like if the books says, &quot;She was required to go to the teacher&quot; you could say, &quot;She was required, she had to, go to the teacher&quot;. Or you could read the sentence and then say, &quot;Do you know what required means? It means she had to do it&quot;...<br />
> 60 days ago

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kellysfinn
kellysfinn , Parent writes:
Listening to stories is a great way to introduce your child to reading, it often makes reading fun and enjoyable for early readers.  The best part is that listening to stories is proven to help develop literacy skills too!

Have you tried audio books? We have a great selection of them to check out from AudibleKids.

I think the best guide to which stories are appropriate for your daughter is to find books that she enjoys listening to.  These books might be at or above her reading level, but I don't think that means she won't understand or find enjoyment from them!  In my teaching experience, my first graders absolutely loved listening to Harry Potter, though few of them could read at that level independently.

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Sylvia HS
Sylvia HS , Child Professional, Teacher writes:
Your daughter can enjoy the language of books, e.g. the rhyme patterns, the repeated words, etc., when she listens to them.  If she enjoys listening, then it probably doesn't matter if the book has a particular grade level assigned to it.  Depending on our age, we can enjoy and understand books for different reasons, and at different levels.  When I read a book as a child, e.g. Anne of Green Gables, I understood it as a child.  When I re-read it as an adult, I enjoyed it and understood it differently.  If  grade 2 or 3 students read Magic Tree House books, etc., they're going to appreciate (understand) them differently from a 4 year old who listens to them.  I guess I'm wondering what your pre-K teacher is meaning by "understanding".  If your daughter enjoys listening to a book, then that's probably your best cue about her understanding.
> 60 days ago

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