Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Use Shanna and Her Friends to Help Children Learn to Read

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Use Shanna and Her Friends to Help Children Learn to Read

Article excerpt

Byline: Brandy Hilboldt Allport, The Times-Union

Author Jean Marzollo, best known for her I Spy series of rhyming picture books, introduces readers to a new character called Shanna (rhymes with banana) in her latest publications.

Shanna and her little brother, Shane (rhymes with rain) play games with their buddies, Tiger, Ducky and Dinah (short for Dinah-saurus). Children ages 4 to 6 will enjoy following along as the friends plan a surprise party, stage a talent show and entertain each other with riddles. The paperback books are called Hip, Hop, Hooray! Party Surprise, Bear Hunt and Animal Riddles. They cost $3.99 each, and Jump At The Sun published them.

Not only are the simple stories entertaining, they are written in a style that teaches literacy skills. In an introductory note, Marzollo, an early childhood expert, explains the premise behind her carefully written text. She writes about the concept of phonics, but cautions parents about pushing children to sound out too many words, too fast.

"Catching on to phonics is developmental. It happens when it happens -- like walking and talking. Your job is to coach cheerfully and patiently.

"As children learn to read, they are most successful with books that feature rhythm, repetition of words . . . predictable language." She offers tips for using her books to hone reading skills.

The tips apply to the Shanna series and will work with any basic book. …

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