SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Educational Foundation (SEF) recently funded a grant at Lincoln-Hubbard Elementary School for materials to promote "repeated reading experiences" in order to build fluent readers.

These materials are in the form of big books, readers’ theater scripts, and read-a-longs which produce highly engaging reading experiences. The selected materials will be used for repeated readings in both whole group and small group settings in the second grade classrooms.

Students have shown a great affinity for the big books. tiles of which include, From Caterpillar to Butterfly, The Color of Us, The Rainbow Fish, Silly Sally, If the Dinosaurs Came Back, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and In the Small, Small Pond.

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Students choose to read the big books with one another during Friday Fun Time and play school. Together they simulate some of the activities we do while reading the big books during shared reading. Lincoln-Hubbard second grade teacher Abigail Emerson adds that “Watching students “play” these reading games during Friday Fun Time speaks to how much they enjoy the shared reading activities. Not only do they enjoy shared reading with the big books, but they are also becoming stronger, more fluent readers.”

Chrysanthemum, written by Kevin Henkes is a story I always read to my students at the beginning of the year because it emphasizes the importance of kindness and acceptance,” explains Emerson. “This year, I shared the story using the big book format, which created a completely different experience. Not only did my students enjoy the huge illustrations, but they also loved the larger print, because it was easier for them to chime in as we reread the story. Throughout the year, I have used the big book version of Chrysanthemum to teach my readers how to decode multi syllabic words, scoop words to read fluently, and use context clues to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words.

“I like the big books, because it kind of helps us read smoothly,” agrees second grader, Indiya Weinmann.

The listening center is a place in Emerson’s classroom where four students are invited at a time to listen and follow along to books on CD. Some titles in the Readers' Theater Script Box for grades 1-2 are: The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, The Fox and the Stork, The Hall of Holidays and The Drum. Mackenzie Matter, a student of Emerson’s, elaborates by saying, “The listening center helps me as a reader because they read really well on the CDs so it helps me to learn better voices.”

For more information about SEF, visit sefnj.org.