For a long time I thought the time and inspiration would come to write my own little early reader books for our classroom. I got this far, and wrote 4 (you can have them, but they have no pictures), before I ran out of steam and decided to order me some ready made books. (Time is a precious commodity when you're administrating/teachering.) I ordered some sets from Montessori Services, which is a GREAT GREAT company because they have a good selection of quality materials, their prices are very fair, the customer service is really great, and they shipped everything SO FAST. Can you tell I was pleased to open my box from them?
Here is what I ordered, and what I thought of what I ordered:
Bob Books- Set 1- I can't believe I spent 16 bucks on these. Oh well. The red books (Mac, Sam, Mat, Dot) are easy and phonetic and repetitive enough that my most recently budding readers can read them in our library. Better yet, they can take them home for the weekend with our new library checkout system. The consecutive books (yellow and green) are much more difficult though and contain lots more text. It's a big step from the red books to the yellow books which contain both phonetic and some sight words. The illustrations are very basic drawings- someone with minimal skill could draw them. I thought this could be taken advantage of and if children wanted to copy the drawings it would be cool... but then again, it would be much cooler to draw ANYTHING from sight than to copy a Bob book drawing. The books are popular, but they are not my favorite.
Peacekeeper's Series- Level 1 - Now we're talking. These books were written by Marianne Bivins and illustrated by Betty Bivins Edwards. They are thematic little early reader booklets. The books are folded card stock stapled in the middle, they are small. The drawings are simple (more complex than BOB though) and remind me of squiggly children in the Assistants to Infancy charts. The great thing about these little books is that they are mostly phonetic and they have a simple story line about the peaceful resolution of conflicts in a Montessori classroom.
The Sense of Wonder Series- These books are larger than the Peacekeeper's booklets and they look like handmade and illustrated books. I love the handwriting and calligraphy in these books. The illustrations are drawn as well but they are much more refined than the ones in books mentioned above. They are nature themed, and the set includes six books (three phonetic and three phonogram). I'd encourage a child to copy these or make their own similar ones any day. The stories are really nicely written. These books, as opposed to the ones mentioned above really discourage me from feeling like I should save money and write my own, they are so nice.
Mrs. Rhonda's readers - There are 8 books in this completely phonetic set and they are really cute. I usually don't use the word *cute*, but that's what these books are. They are made out of hard glossy card stock and the illustrations are something in the style of attractive Japanese packaging, minimalist and slightly cartoony (but not in a bad way). The stories in these books are actually good. They are even funny, but not in the "Mat sat on Sam" slapstick way, but funny in a manner more respectful to a four year old's intellect. I really like these A LOT. The children like them A LOT. We read them.
If I had to rate my newly acquired books in terms of difficulty for the children, the sequence would go like this:
-red Bob, then the other sets of Bob
-Sense of Wonder
Books that I am considering for the next round of spending:
Flyleaf publishing books- look like they have excellent illustrations, are reality based, and come in a range of reading stages.