What Type of Books are Good for Teaching Children?
While every child has a unique approach to learning, I have discovered that every child does at least have the capacity and the desire to learn. Their way of learning, however, (among many other things), needs to be on their terms. After all, if we teach children solely in the way that we are accustomed to, we could be blocking a child's potential from shining through.
I have found that as a whole, the most entertaining books for children are the ones that are the most interactive. Too often teachers resort to teaching in a way that seems easiest for them. They don't realize that they could avoid a lot of power struggles if they were willing to give up some of their habitual ways to try something different. It is easy to read a book word for word so that you can check reading time off of your list. But is it still an easy task when you've read the same book the same way for the fifth time this week? Your small group becomes anxious and leaves you feeling as though you have a small town that needs to be managed. You may not feel like trying something different at first, but when you see the desired results come to pass, you may start to think differently about reading time.
What Does an Interactive Book Look Like?
One of my favorite books for teaching children is "Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes" When I first looked over this book, I was curious as to how my preschoolers would adhere to it. There is a cd that goes along with it and it sings along to the words on each page. Within seconds of turning on the cd and announcing that we were going to listen to a book, the kids were enthused. This book sings about a cat walking to school with his white shoes. Well, throughout his journey, his shoes change color as he steps in different colored objects along the way. By the end of the book, my students were singing parts from the book and shouting, "Let's read it again!"
This book is also great because it can reach children at a variety of levels. While the over all content of this book appears to be aimed toward preschoolers, older children will also be captivated by the rhythmic melodies that are embedded in the story. Why not allow your older children to take a break from the sometimes tedious task of reading word for word and allow them to be silly while a book is being sung to them. Enabling your child to read a book that is not as structured as what they are used to from time to time will potentially increase their creativity, not stifle it.
Teaching is Still Involved
While I stressed the point that "Pete the Cat" does allow children to be silly during reading time, it is still a good book to use for structured learning as well. You can simply read the book without the cd and ask questions to get the children thinking. This particular book talks a lot about colors. You can ask what would happen to Pete's shoes if he stepped into something that is not mentioned on the pages of the book. Or you could ask your students why they think that Pete continuously keeps stepping in something that stains his shoes? Do you think he learned his lesson?
Some books need doctoring before they can be readable for your age group. Some books are too wordy and you have to paraphrase in order to hold the attention of your students. This book is perfect for preschoolers. You can read it just as it is to them. But you can also ask many questions, as previously mentioned, that will enable your preschoolers to think on a deeper level. This book along with the cd will do a lot of the work for you.