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A book’s introduction serves to orient the reader

Why is it so very important to give beginning readers a book introduction before reading? The answer lies in what we think reading is for the reader at the very early stages of learning how to read.There is much to learn about reading that transcends the words on the page if we want the reader to gain as much meaning as possible from the print.The book introduction serves to provide a scaffold for a fairly good first read of a new text, and allows the reader to use as much information as possible to decode and maintain meaning of the text.Carol Lyons states, the book introduction can help the reader to think about and anticipate what could happen in the story, ask themselves questions, make predictions of the outcome, and confirm or disprove their predictions.We introduce new books to beginning readers because we really want to facilitate immediate engagement and to scaffold the reading for success without frustration.Choice of book must be done carefully. As we consider what book to choose we should take meaning and language into account.Have we considered the child’s interest and control of oral language?Have we examined the book for language structures that may need to be rehearsed before the child reads?Children often need to hear new language structures before they can read them.In choosing a book be sure to consider what the child can control, as there should be a minimum of new things to learn.Too many new concepts like vocabulary and sentence structures will easily overwhelm the new reader.As we introduce the new book, it is important to make the child familiar with the story.What is the book about in a nutshell? How does the story unfold? What unusual words, sentences and writing style are to be considered?As you draw the child’s attention to the important ideas, discuss the pictures in the whole book.It is also useful to ask the beginning reader to find one or two new important words in the text. We can then ask what letter would he or she expect to see at the beginning of the word.To teach a new reader how to monitor his reading, ask the reader to tell you if they know whether they have read known words correctly.You can ask, “How did you know that word? How can you check that you are right?“You would want beginning readers to know that they could confirm their predictions using the initial letters and perhaps more letters in the word read correctly.As we think about how to engage the new reader, it is essential to ask them to reflect and discuss their feelings about what they read.We can ensure they understand the plot and sequence of the story by being an active listener and participant in their conversations about what they have read.Overviews of the story structure also assist in supporting the reader.Story structure varies according to genre; therefore, if reading a fairytale, children need to know a little about the features of fairy tales and how they differ from fables.Margaret Mooney describes this by saying, knowing some of the features enable the reader to consider the most appropriate reading style.Effective and supportive book introductions give the beginning reader the opportunity to attend more closely to the meaning of the story.Our role is to cover a few ground rules like selecting words that are critical to the main idea of the story and ensuring the reader has the language required to get the meaning.We should provide enough information for anticipation and prediction of the story and open conversations that elicit emotional connections to the stories read.As Marie Clay reminds us, book introductions are authentic social interactions about the new book; but when they provide an orientation to novel features of stories and of texts, they are also a kind of teaching.literacymatters@logic.bm