Resource Review: Start at the Very Beginning

This feature reviews books, articles, websites, or other resources that discuss beginning readers.

I’m starting with some of the recommended reading from the Geisel Award Committee Manual.

Start at the Very Beginning: A Conversation with Margaret Jensen about Books for Beginning Readers

Tana Elias. Friends of the CCBC Newsletter. Accessed: June 3, 2015.

This article is an interview with Margaret Jensen who held workshops in the lat 1990s about books for beginning readers.

I thought this article was a valuable resource for people curious about evaluating beginning readers. I learned a lot of important things about beginning reader’s eye development. According to Jensen, beginning readers can only see about four letters at a time; two letters to the left and one to two letters to the right. This put the necessity for smaller words in beginning readers into immediate context to me. Smaller words are easier to *see*, not necessarily to sound out. I also learned about what kind of text lay-out is preferred and approximately how much white space should be in and around words.

Jensen also discusses how children learn words — “sight vocabulary” is the term she uses for the words that children memorize vocabulary. This may explain why children often say a completely unrelated word to what they are reading, but it may begin with the same letter as the word they are struggling with.

Also included in this article/interview: additional reading recommendations and advice for parents & librarians.

A great read for anyone looking to further their study with beginning reader texts.

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