A lot of foundational learning takes place during the elementary years, and reading is a huge part of this. Before finishing elementary school, kids need to have a solid reading background so they’re prepared for the more difficult texts they’ll encounter in middle and high school. One way to help with this preparation is with a reading checklist that includes many of the titles that are recognized as valuable by educators.
Kindergarten and First Grade
Kindergarten and first-grade students are just being introduced to reading. They’re learning how letters form words and words form sentences and ideas. To build on these basic skills, books with short, easy-to-sound-out words are ideal. Titles like "The Cat in the Hat" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" can help new readers develop phonetic and sight word skills. Other titles appropriate for kindergartners and first graders include "All By Myself," "School Bus" and "I Went Walking."
Second and Third Grades
Students in the second and third grades will typically have a better grasp on reading, and most know letter and letter combination sounds. For many children in these grades, the skills they learned in the previous years are used with ease and reading fluency increases. These students are usually ready for slightly more difficult books that include less common words, and short chapter books may also be appropriate. Titles that may appeal to second and third graders include "Dirt on My Shirt," Marvin Redpost books or the Mercy Watson series.
Fourth and Fifth Grades
Fourth and fifth graders are expected to read fluently, and they’re also at an age where they comprehend more complex ideas. Critical thought processes are emerging, and the texts for these grade levels reflect that. Chapter books begin to replace picture books as students, and a variety of subjects are part of the reading program to help students expand their vocabularies. Books like "Bridge to Terebithia," "Pedro’s Journal" and "Summer of Riley" will help students develop their literacy skills even more, along with introducing them to more serious subject matters.
To get kids more excited about reading and make them want to tackle a reading checklist, introduce books to them early on. Practice reading every day, and make it fun by discussing the book or creating a game out of it. Choose books that are appropriate to the child’s reading level; if it’s too difficult, he may get frustrated, and if it’s too easy, he may become bored. If children are encouraged to read and see that reading can be fun, they are more likely to make it a habit rather than a chore, and they’ll improve their reading skills in the process.
Suzy Kerr graduated from Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia. She completed her Master's degree in Nutrition Sciences, also at the University of Georgia. Suzy has been a successful health, fitness and nutrition writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in various print and online publications.