I’ve used Bob Books with all three of my children; one of them was not “reluctant”, as their first reading curriculum. When it was time for my third child to learn to read, I had a bit of a method for how to use this curriculum and thought I’d share. Of course, every child is different and what works for one may not work for another. The reason I like Bob Books so much is because of the sense of accomplishment the child feels after completing a book, and then the whole box.
Bob Books are small so that a child’s hand can grasp them easily. They come in five different boxed sets so that you can celebrate after finishing each box. Plus, each box builds on previous concepts and gradually adds new concepts. They now have a beginner box “My First Bob Books – build,” that introduces the alphabet and alphabet sounds, something they refer to as phonemic awareness.
The boxes are colorful and the stories are built around simple pictures that correspond with the sentence(s) on each page, helping the child remember the sentence and relate the words to the story being told. This concept is especially helpful for a short attention span. Young children naturally have short attention spans but those with a more prominent short attention span tend to see how they are different from other children which may also cause some confidence issues. Bob Books allows them to feel that they have success if the curriculum is provided with love and patience. This in turn gives them a confidence boost which appears to improve their attention span as well.
Step one: We started each book with words of celebration,”I can tell you are ready to learn to read, Johnny, here’s your first box.” I then let him play with the books on his own (for at least a day) before we actually get started in order for him to feel that sense of ownership. You have to be patient that the books (there are 8 per box) may end-up all over the coffee table.
Step two: Always read the first book to him, and then go back and read each sentence while having him repeat you. Move your finger under each word while reading to help focus his eyes on the word for this day only. That’s it for the day.
Step three: The next day have him read and start sounding out the words with lots of help so he doesn’t get frustrated. My second child was an early reader so she would rarely have a hard time sounding out a word, but my other two children would never finish each book without some help. Never expect a child to be perfect with each book this will only reduce their confidence. The reading will come over time and it’s important that we don’t create a negative stigma with reading. My first reluctant reader is older now and reading novels. There was a time when I feared this would never happen but the patience paid off.
Step four:If you feel your child is having an especially difficult time with a certain book, plan some extra activities. I would write the most difficult sentence on a blank piece of paper and have him re-write it (copy work) and then tell him to draw any picture he wanted that seemed to go along with the sentence. Or, I would photocopy a page from the book and have him re-write it and color the picture. The pictures in the Bob Books are black and white and make great coloring pages.
Step five: After, we finished each box we had a victory march around the house and would say things like, “Johnny has completed box 1 and is now ready for box 2.” The swell of pride and the smile on his face told me this was a good idea.
Now that he’s completed all five boxes, I’m sure to occasionally point out that he is indeed reading. For example, while you’re driving he may read a billboard accurately. This is an opportune time to say, “Hey, great job, you’re reading.”
Keep in mind that this is my story and hopefully you will find it helpful, but all children are different and this requires some flexibility.