Confession: I hate teaching kids to read. HATE it! I remember with vivid clarity the first time I sat down with my son to try piecing together the sounds we had learned into simple words… I remember the frustration of doing the same words over and over and over again. With 5 young children, I always seem to have an emerging reader in the house, and I tend to put off reading lessons as long as possible. The problem is not my bookshelf… I have books. I have so many readers flooding my bookshelves, you’d think I’d have a bunch of little scholars on my hands. But random readers are not super helpful to me. Teaching reading gives me a headache to even think about so I need structure and guidelines and a program to follow. I recently stumbled upon Superbooks, a complete reading program for kids, and am so excited to share this full review with you. Keep reading and don’t forget to pin this on your homeschool board!
Teaching Kids to Read… the Easy Way!
Superbooks is a reading program that was developed by JoAnne Nelson, who has a Bachelor of Education with a Masters in Teaching Reading. I know, right? I mean, if I could I would fly her up to my house for the next 4 years to get me through the emerging reader years. However, JoAnne has created the next best thing, a curriculum that is geared towards primary students of all ages. It is not based on grade level as much as just a quality reading program that can be used for any struggling reader. Superbooks is both a reading and comprehension program with step-by-step instruction for both students and (wait for it) parents/teachers!
The teacher’s manual has an overview of each reader, the linguistic elements of that book (ie. which vowels or sounds, new words, new spellings, etc. will be covered in the reader), and ways to use the Super Book. It gives you three different plans to follow as you teach the book, including Independent Reading for Enjoyment, Independent Reading for Meaning, and building Linguistic Skills. It shows you exactly how to introduce the story, how to guide them as they read, and how to integrate reading and language. It also gives you a number of follow-up activities for each book including writing stories together, other books to read that will help expand on the lesson, a take home book for students to color, sequencing, etc.
Levelled Readers that Grow with Your Child
The readers are levelled, each kit has 40 readers to go along with it, and each reader has a take home story that can be used to facilitate further learning and re-enforce concepts covered in the lessons. The readers start at a very easy level, using a rebus (drawing to represent a word) for sounds that the child may not know yet. For example, in book # 1, apple is represented as a rebus while the story focuses on a, n, r, and d sounds. Each book has a complete word list at the back of it that can be used as both a pre-reading exercise or a review. Take a look at what the first book looks like inside.
The program progresses at a good pace, by the end your child will be reading and understanding what they are reading. They will have the skills they need for independent reading, decoding, and fluency. I took a picture of the last book so you can see how far the books will take your child.
What did we think of Superbooks?
Here is what it really comes down to, right? What did we think of it? How easy was it to use? How easy was the teacher’s manual to follow? Overall I was highly impressed with this program. It is in-depth, I love how it approaches not only the technicalities of reading, but the entire experience. Your child is encouraged to wonder, imagine, express how it makes them feel, find connections within the story, connect the story to others they have read, etc. It takes reading from a subject in your homeschool classroom to an experience that children can relate to and get excited about.
I really love the teacher’s manual. Each story has about 4 pages worth of instruction, ideas, conversation starters, discussion topics, expansion projects, etc. You can either just use this as another set of readers if your child is progressing quickly, or you can use this with a younger child like I did, and go in-depth into each story you do. We took our time with it, we enjoyed each story and fully experienced it! I really enjoyed the take-home books, though as homeschoolers, we obviously used them a bit differently. We ended up doing 1 book each week. Day one, we introduced it, talked about the sounds, and did a read through. On Day 2 we asked more questions, went into more depth into the breakdown of the words, and practised it again. Day 3 we reviewed sounds we had learned the week before, we did some printing and copywork from our story to re-enforce the sounds. Day 4 we read the story again and sometimes a book from the library that went along with it and had more discussion. Day 5 we colored our take home book and put it together.
How we used Superbooks
On day 5, after coloring our take home book, we put it together and got ready for my son’s oral presentation. We all gathered together to listen to him, and he got all dressed up. He pulled out his book and talked about the characters and his coloring strategy. Then he read the shortened story to all of us and we all praised and encouraged him for a job well done. I even printed off a little certificate for each book he had read and made a huge deal of it. For this little one who lives by words of affirmation, he lit up like a candle. He was inspired and excited about the next book in the series and I have watched not only his skills, but his love of learning and reading together grow.
My favorite part of this was that it was less technical, and more about discussion and imagination and one-on-one time snuggling on the couch. This approach to teaching kids to read aligns with the way I love to instruct and would work well with any learning style. The pictures and stories were well written and funny. There was lots of little details for us to talk about and I had guidance in the teacher’s manual if I was ever running out of ideas.
Where to get a Superbooks Kit for YOUR Homeschool
If you are interested in more information, head on over to the website at Superbooks.net. You can also find them on Facebook. Take a look at the catalogue for more details on the kits (there are two… Kit I and Kit II) and choose your package. This program is Hip Homeschooling recommended and we intend to complete the program as our personal reading curriculum for many years to come! I know you’ll love it as much as I do! You can see some sample books over on the website HERE.