February is “I Love Reading” month, and GVP students are challenging themselves to go for the gold in reading! Students can earn gold medals by meeting their grade level goals. What a great idea from the GVP staff and teachers to use the Olympics theme to encourage reading!
My children in first and third grades are excited about this challenge and have started chipping away. My first grader’s current favorite books to read are the graphic novels by Dav Pilkey. He reaches time and time again for the Dog Man series (four currently), apparently a spin-off of the Captain Underpants series. Dog Man was born when a police dog’s head was attached to a police man’s body—I know, not very tame—and his main nemesis is Petey, full of creative schemes and antics. There aren’t too many words on each page, which makes the reading manageable for a first grader, although there are definitely enough long words to provide some challenge as well. The art work is simple but fun, and there is an interactive component with what the author calls “flip-o-rama” pages. It took us a while to figure out how they work, but I’m sure most of you can do this more easily. By far the biggest selling point is humor, which is both outrageous and clever. And I should point out that the humor could be a little raunchy, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
When I shared our Dog Man craze with friends, they told us about their older son’s earlier obsession with the Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series written by the same author. These books seem to be categorized as graphic novels, but they are closer to easy chapter books with color illustrations and about 5 lines to read on each page. I haven’t browsed through them too much, but my kids have been working steadily through the 9-book series. They received the first few as Christmas presents and have been requesting others through the library, which is always a sure sign of their approval.
Dave Pilkey’s books provide joyous reading for all elementary students, but they are especially good for sneaking in some reading time for developing readers in the earlier grades. It’s especially great when my first grader reads some of the funny parts to me—with palpable excitement he takes me through the section, and we always end with a loud, bursting laugh!
~Sun Hee Lee