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If you’ve ever had an accelerated reader in your home, then you know it is a challenge to keep up with what they read and to keep them in books. They read everything and anything they can get their hands on and as a parent you are constantly on the search for a good read for your child. Today’s post is all about How to Keep Up with an Accelerated Reader.
Do You Have an Accelerated Reader?
The simple definition of an accelerated reader is someone who reads well at an early age. All of our kids are accelerated readers. They tackled big books at a young age. The biggest challenge of having an accelerated reader comes when they are young. The older your readers get, the easier it is.
It’s important to point out though, that typically we think of early readers as being “accelerated” readers. They head out of the starting gate at a full run and keep a steady pace. Keeping them in good supply of appropriately challenging books is a key to nurturing the early start.
However, you can have accelerated readers that begin reading more on a typical schedule for emerging readers. Once they catch on, they begin to read everything in sight and just because they didn’t start super early doesn’t mean they haven’t caught up to the fast pace of reading books and don’t have the capability to read more difficult books. Some of our children fall in to this category.
The Challenge of Having an Accelerated Reader
In my experience, there are three things that present the most difficult hurdle when you have a student who reads voraciously.
- Finding books that are emotionally appropriate for their reading level & still a challenging read for them. Just because a student can read what kids in high school are reading when he is 6, doesn’t mean he should. Worse than reading books that are no longer challenging, is reading books that are inappropriate for kids of a younger age.
- Pre-reading fast enough to find out if a book is off the mark for your child or not. Accelerated readers need new books all the time. Keeping up with them is difficult.
- As they grow, they get more discerning. This is actually true of any reader who has been exposed to good books whether or not they are ahead of the reading game. I have observed over the years as my children have read a lot of good books, they have little tolerance for books which are not.
As Gladys Hunt says in Honey for a Teen’s Heart,
Excellence has a way of eliminating inferior products.
In practical terms, this means that finding a good book gets a little harder especially since they read so quickly! That’s all the more reason to find a good source of information on books.
Strategies for Managing an Accelerated Reader
- Pre-Read Books You’d Like Your Student to Read– At our house, my husband is the pre-reader. Unencumbered with the daily tasks of homeschooling and being a fast reader makes him a prime candidate for this job. If I see a book or series of books that I think might be appropriate, I bring it home and set him to work. In one evening he’ll be able to tell whether or not our younger kids should try the book. He’s read a lot of good books over the years and it gives our children the incentive to read his suggestions. Once their dad has read it, then they know that he can share what’s going on in that good book with them. We’ve seen some wonderful conversations over the years that have begun because of a book they’ve shared together. I’ll share more about book discussions in another post.
- Ask Around about Books– If you don’t have a good system in place for pre-reading, then there are other ways to be more certain about a book choice. One is to ask around. Ask family, friends, and online homeschooling forum/Facebook buddies about a book. Chances are someone has some experience with it and can tell you about the book. It’s important to take information from others and discern for yourselves if a book is right for your family.
- Read Books about Books– Another way is to get your hands on some books about books. These authors have specialized in sharing good books with their audience. I’ve got a list of our favorites below.
Books about Books
A post on voracious readers would be incomplete without some information on books! This is a list of books which have annotated bibliographies in them telling you something about the good books on their list. These are my favorites:
- The Read Aloud Handbook– by Jim Trelease. This is a gift I give to all new parents. Not only will it compel you to read more with your accelerate reader, but he provides a nice section on books and their explanations. What I love most about this book is the way Mr. Trelease emphasizes how crucial reading aloud is to kids – even ones who are readers. He makes it plain that parenting is not a time saving measure and it reinforces the need for us to make an effort to find the right books and to get reading with our kids!
- Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life– a classic by Gladys Hunt.
- Honey for a Teen’s Heart– a book cowritten by Hunt and speaks specifically about how to communicate with teens using books.
- Read for the Heart: Whole Books for Wholehearted Families– by Sarah Clarkson. I adore this book. It provides a perfect depiction of a child who has been raised with good books in her life. She has book recommendations by genre.
- Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books and Imagination with Your Children– a new book by Sarah Clarkson which shares the power of story in our children’s lives.
- The Kid’s Book Club Book – by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp. This book not only has a good reading list, but it shares how to organize and carry out a book club for various age groups of kids. This is a fun resource for how to engage kids with books.
- Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers– A new one to my collection, this book concentrates on helping gifted children with book choices. You’ll find information about gifted kids along with book information to help them develop.
Resources for Raising Readers
Reading & books is a significant part of our homeschool culture. Below you’ll find other valuable posts on reading here at Blog, She Wrote along with a few Pinterest boards on the topic.
- The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home– This is one of my favorite posts because it details how we’ve poured into our readers over the years. You’ll find ideas and more resources here.
- How to Turn Emergent Readers into Super Readers– Even accelerated readers were once emergent readers. This post is for every new reader in your life.
- 100 Books You Should Read by the Time You Turn 20– This is a book list made by our teens in response to an NPR top 100 list they were unimpressed by. You’ll find some terrific books on here for kids of all ages.
- Summer Reading without The Carrot & the Stick– A great post on authentic experiences with books. There are lots of creative ideas for getting kids engaged.
- Organizing Your Homeschool Library– What do you do with all the books your accelerated reader will require? Our system is still successful today!
- How to Homeschool with a Kindle– These little devices have opened a whole new world to our readers. Do you have one? When we are in a pinch for a book, we have the perfect one 30 seconds later either through Amazon or through our libraries!
- Reading Pinterest Board– All things reading including many books lists
- eReader Homeschooling– Lots of links to great Kindle books, many of which are free
Nurturing our good readers means having a print rich environment and making sure that trips to the library are a priority. We have had so many books home from the library at our house sometimes we wonder if there are enough still on the shelves for others! I’m sure this is a familiar scene in the homes of most homeschoolers. Keeping track of which books come home and steering them toward the good stuff is the task at hand.
I encourage you to find the resources you need to help your kids make good decisions about books. If you should happen to make a poor judgment, all is not lost. Sometimes those less than discerning moments give us opportunities to have good discussions with our kids.
Enjoy the journey with your accelerated reader. Chances are they will take you to places you’ve not been before through their adventures with books and it gives you as the parent a special role as adventure guide.