We are just starting our First Grade Tours here in MCPL Children's Services, and it motivated me to try to remember some of my own experiences in the first grade. One vivid memory is going on our first visit to the school library - I was so excited it was lucky I didn't toss my cookies! The thrill was tempered a little by the fact that I could hardly read - in fact, I was in the "lowest" reading group in my first grade class. (Not that the teacher told us which group was the lowest, of course - we just all knew.) I apparently told my mom of my frustration and fear about not reading well, and she told my teacher. Before I knew it, I was reading with the top group, and understanding what I read! I'm still not sure exactly what my teacher did, but apparently that extra bit of attention and encouragement, both at home and at school, made a huge difference. (It didn't hurt, either, that the top reading group had more interesting fare.) After thinking about this, I looked for a picture book that reflected a little of my experience.
I've always liked Nancy Carlson, with her colorful and almost comic-like art, her anthropomorphic characters, and her positive messages. I Don't Like to Read! features Henry, a mouse who likes almost everything about first grade except reading. He says reading is "boring" and "dumb" - but really, he's upset that he can't read, while some of his classmates can. His teacher catches on, and with a little help from him, and with extra reading time at home (positive, NON-pressured reading time), he soon is reading and loving it! In fact, when his teacher asks who wants to read the day's lunch menu aloud, Henry is the first to raise his hand. And I can relate, because I love to read, and (ask anyone in my department), I love reading menus the most - especially the part with desserts!