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    Dear Families,

    First grade is a time to enjoy reading together with your child.  Talking about books to improve comprehension skills is vital to your child’s growth as a learner.  In order to remember the books you will read and the discussions you will have in first grade, we have created this journal for you to complete with your child.  This journal will also show your child’s growth in thinking, drawing, and writing.  The books can be any ones you want, including books from home. You can also use books your child will take home from the school library each six-day cycle, or the two additional books that are sent home each week that correspond to your child’s independent reading level. 

    We want you to read a variety of books with your child, including picture books, nonfiction text, and chapter books.  Most of these books will be higher than your child’s decoding ability, but not comprehension level --- which is why it is so important for you to read the books together and have rich discussions.  When talking about these books with your child, explain the genre of book, and tailor your questions accordingly.  

    For fiction books, it is important to discuss all of the important events in the story, as well as have your child answer your "why" and "how" questions.  Think about the ways the characters acted, and talk about the setting. Discuss the author’s message, infer information not explicitly mentioned in the text, and explain how something in the story meaningfully connects to a personal life experience.  

    For nonfiction books, it is best to have your child give a full retelling of important information from the books, and answer your "why" and "how" questions.  Point out text features like captions and labeled pictures. Have your child learn to infer information not explicitly mentioned in the text, as well as tell you the ways the book helped stretch thinking about the topic.  

    If reading a longer book, discuss individual chapters in one sitting, making sure to review previous chapters before continuing to a new chapter.  Particular attention could also be spent having your child figure out vocabulary words from the context of the story, and understanding idiomatic expressions.  Along the way, encourage your child to ask questions.  It is good practice to have your child go back and use the text to find answers.

    Your child should then write a response to the book.  Earlier in the year, it is fine to write some of this for your child.  A reflection might include:

    • explaining new discoveries made and why they were interesting
    • describing a favorite part of the book and why it was special
    • discussing a thoughtful connection made to the text,
    • detailing ways this book was similar to another book,
    • noticing patterns in book series,
    • writing questions or additional wonderings about the book.

    Your child should also create a detailed, corresponding drawing to go along with the written reflection.  You can encourage your child to include labels or explanatory text with the drawing.

    This is for your child to do twice a week.  On the first school day of each month, your child will bring this journal into class to share with the other students.  We want this experience to be as enjoyable as possible for your family.  Adjust the hour of the day and amount of work done each time to best meet the needs of your child.  Happy reading!

                                                            Best,

                                                            Mrs. Manin, Ms. Mazza, and Ms. Pelekis