It’s been a very long time since I have written about this and I have decided to start this up as a regular slot each Monday as it’s such a powerful tool for early literacy skills.
About 5 years ago my early years colleague and I went to an inspiring conference about developing literacy with 2-6 year olds. It was run by two very wonderful specialist early years consultants called Sue Palmer and Roz Bailey who have a wealth of experience between them and an amazing understanding of how young children learn. They understand, what many EY professionals still don’t, that children need to be children, first and foremost and that the best way for them to develop is through a playbased, child-centred, emergent curriculum.
While there we picked up their publication called The Foundations of Literacy. It contains many brilliant, child-centred, fun, exciting ways to get literacy embedded in children from a young age and we immediately loved it! It has a strong emphasis on starting with TALK and LISTENING skills, rather than going straight for the technically advanced skills of reading and writing. We essentially re-wrote our approach to teaching literacy based on this and implemented many of the ideas contained within the book.
One of the nicest of these ideas, and also the most simple, was what they term “5-A-Day-books”. The idea is that you choose 5 titles from among your usual books (or from the library) and read them every single day for at least a week. They suggest choosing short picture books which feature strong rhythm and/ or repeated refrain so that the children can quickly memorise the words and join in with the story-telling. This empowers them to be able to “read” and re-tell stories from a young age, and also makes them very fluent in a range of text types and literature styles.
It worked brilliantly with the children in my class, and after a term of switching the 5-a-day books each week, they had memorised a huge number of books and developed a real love for the pictures and characters within them.
Now that I am no longer teaching I have an audience of only two children instead of thirty, but we still follow the 5-A-Day idea together! We began this with Cakie when she was around 12 months old and she loved the familiarity of reading the same books every day. With a house move, new baby and other huge life-changes over the past year we essentially forgot all about it, but in the past couple of months we have begun again in earnest and I have been in awe of how effective it has been! Cakie (now 31 months) can already re-tell at least three stories by memory and can join in with the familiar, repetition or complete the rhymes of many, many more.
So, how do you do 5-A-Day-Books with your own children at home or school? Simple! Choose 5 texts that are simple, short, appealing and which tap into whatever your child is interested in. Try and include at least two books that have rhyming text or a familiar, repeated refrain as studies show that children exposed to plenty of strong, rhythmic text/ song from a young age become more literate. But that’s a whole separate post for another day!
If you try this idea and enjoy it, let me know either through a comment or an email and maybe we could get a 5-A-Day-Books link up going each Monday where we can swap ideas for which books to use. I’m always on the look out for new and exciting books to read to my children!
So, I shall call this Week 1, and these are the books we are reading:
Chocolate Mousse For Greedy Goose (Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt)
A very silly, very funny rhyming book. Cakie can retell most of this by heart already (it’s been on our 5-A-Day list a few times!)
Dogger (Shirley Hughes)
An absolute favourite book of mine from childhood. I can still hear my Mum’s voice reading this to me. It brings back wonderful memories of a happy childhood and is beautiful in so many ways.
Faster, Faster, Nice and Slow! (Sue Heap and Nick Sharratt)
Absolutely BRILLIANT and perfect for young children! Funny, silly, bright pictures, rhyming text, predictable and child-centred. I can’t recommend this author-illustrator duo highly enough!
Norman The Slug With the Silly Shell (Sue Hendra)
We’ve only just discovered this and I love it! Very silly and funny story about a slug who tries a range of shell substitutes until he finds the perfect donut! I’m already planning some art ideas around this book!
The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Judith Kerr)
An absolute classic text. There is something about it that just captures children’s imaginations and wonder. Cakie asks for this at least three times a day and she can re-tell parts of it word perfectly, event hough it’s not rhyming or repetitive. All about a very greedy tiger who turns up for tea one day and eats everything on the table!
Can’t wait to share again with you next week and let me know if you are going to give it a try!
**Edited to say: As many people have told me they are going to give this a go, I have added a link up list below. If you have blogged about your list, please add a link so that we can read about your book choices! I’m not expecting this to be a big linky like It’s Playtime, but it would be great to spread this idea and get the challenge going! **