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Now I'm Reading! Series Review by Dawn Oaks

Nora Gaydos
Innovative Kids
18 Ann Street
Norwalk, CT 06854

Do you find yourself perplexed in finding books that your emerging reader can actually read independently? This was me with our third child. We had gotten a handle on a majority of consonants and short vowel sounds and a few sight reading words. In going to the library, he was eager to find books he could put his new reading skills to use with and read a book independently. When we got there he earnestly looked for just the right book, but we found that even many of the easy readers were still too difficult. We had our reading curriculum that we were continuing to make progress with, but he just wanted a real book that he could read on his own.

I got to thinking back to when our older children had learned to read. They began their education in public school and I remembered the little books that they would bring home that were about 10 pages long and contained approximately 4 words per page. There was a lot of repetition and reinforcement of words and visual cues in the pictures on each page. How I wished I could find such a resource for our son who was passing through this critical time at home. There just had to be something out there. Unfortunately, I never did find that ideal resource, until just recently when I had the opportunity to review some of the sets in the Now I'm Reading! Series by Innovative Kids.

The Now I'm Reading! Series has 6 levels: Pre-Reader, Levels 1-4, and Independent. I had the opportunity to review the Pre-Reader and Level 1 sets. The Pre-Reader level focuses on sight words. It comes with 32 sight word cards, 8 storybooks, an instruction guide for parents, and an activity guide for additional sight word activities at home. Each of the storybooks contains a list of the sight words used in that particular story in the back flap of the book. The books are soft-covered and fit nicely in smaller hands. The text in these pre-readers uses a lot of visual cues from the pictures on the page. The first book in the Pre-Reader level, Magic Hat, focuses on the sight words of "a" and "and". Text from these pages read: "A hat and a rabbit", "A hate and a bird", "A hat and a frog", "A hat and a turtle", etc. On each page, there is a colorful illustration of a magician holding a magic hat and pulling out the second object named in the text on each page.

The Advanced Level 1 set that was reviewed was Clever Critters. This level 1 set focuses on an integration of short vowel sounds throughout each story. The Clever Critters set comes with 10 phonics books, reward stickers, and a parent instructional guide. At the end of each of the phonics books is a list of reading comprehension questions that can be discussed.

We have just begun a phonics program with our fourth child who is a very eager want-to-be reader. I am very excited to introduce the initial sight words from the Now I'm Reading! Pre-Reader level so he can feel the reward and excitement of reading his first books to his mommy, daddy, and anyone else that will listen. I am further encouraged by the design of the each set which comes in its own case that resembles a book, but has plastic holders for each book in the series. The ability to keep all these books together in an easy-to-carry case makes the use of this system even more appealing. Thanks for another great innovation by Innovative Kids.

Product review by Dawn Oaks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2009