Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Last summer, I tutored a little guy who was going into third grade, but reading at a beginning first grade level. Three or four times a week, I picked G. up and we went to the neighborhood library and read. Originally, I tried to steer him toward the easy reader section- Dr. Seuss, the Elephant and Piggy books, and the Rookie Reader science series. G would have none of it. He wanted books about cars, and more specifically, books about low riders. We exhausted all of the books in that library, then moved to the larger world of interlibrary loan. By the end of the summer, I knew quite a bit about low riders, and G had started to read and had written a twenty-page book about low riders.

G reminded me (AGAIN!) about the importantce of motivation and engagement in reading. The EASY READERS were painful, but put G in a book about low riders and he could read words like Chevrolet Impala, hydraulics, chrome, velvet and horsepower with absolutely no problem. He could read those words because he cared about them.

This year I'm spending my mornings teaching intervention groups to second and third graders. The groups are about 75% boys. We are reading a lot of nonfiction and I've just found a new book I think they will love. TRUCKS is a Level 1 (first grade, not DRA Level 1) National Geographic Reader in a series that also includes topics like storms and frogs. The book is narrated by Slick, a truck driver who appears on every page. Each two-page spread is about a different kind of truck-typical ones like dump trucks, tow trucks, and cement mixers, but also some that are more unusual, e.g. the world's largest truck, the Liebherr 282. The last three pages show Slick's rig, including the cab and dashboard, and his office/sleeping quarters. Each two-page spread contains a great picture, and 2-4 sentences of juicy information.

I know G and has buddies are going to love this book. After they are done examining all of the different kinds of trucks, I can use the book to teach them about nonfiction tools, because TRUCKS has all of them- a table of contents, headings on each page, labeled diagrams, "truck talk" vocabulary that is pulled out in a little text box on many of the pages, and a glossary in the back. Many of the pages have truck-related riddles, e.g. "Q: What is the laziest part of a truck? A: The wheels, they're always TIRED."

I'm putting this book in my school bag right now. I can't wait to share it with my reading buddies. I know they are going to love it.

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