Chapter 3: Favorite Reading Topics

Pick books about topics or themes that your child loves as well as topics you care about--explaining why something is important to you not only builds your child’s perspective that reading is fun, it shows her that reading can help her discover new passions. Whether you’re reading books about science or fables, animals or machines, holding a short conversation about the topic is just as important as modeling reading. One of Pillar Learning’s key areas of research is into what topics can engage and educate your child. These topics are meant as a stepping stone for conversations and exploration of wider concepts.

In the categories below, we've organized categories, specific topics and how to start conversations about each.  

 

 

Ages 0 to 3:

Animals

  • Naming different animals, what environments they live in and what they like to eat. Children at this young age range are still grappling with spoken language, so it's helpful to tie words to concrete items or actions that are a part of your child's routines.

Imitating adult tasks and speech

  • Encourage imitation and explain your movements and their motivations, i.e. “I’m flipping this switch to turn off the lights.” These narrations not only help your child connect nouns and verbs to specific objects and actions, but also helps them understand how certain objects and processes work.

Environmental care

  • Give opportunities for kids to clean up after themselves and around the house. The key teaching point here is establishing what your child's surroundings, settings and environments are and explaining how we're a member of this place. Talk about all the things that make up an environment, from people to necessary objects, symbols of culture to tools you use. This is a great use your child’s seemingly boundless energy and practice their gross and fine motor skills

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Age 4:

Dinosaurs

  • ...or other large animals and creatures where they can compare how much bigger the animal is than they are. At this age, comparisons in size and perspective are a great way to get your child engaged and thinking about the environment around them, preparing them for future math lessons on measurement. Start with direct comparisons: which is bigger, my phone or Codi? Then go with new units of measurement: my baby chair is two Codi's tall. Finally, when your child is familiar with written numbers, you can start assigning measurements like feet, meters, inches, etc. 

All About Me

  • Four-year-olds love talking about their favorite objects and activities. Support these hobbies with other media, such as online resources, books, or our favorite, sketching out new stories. Check out our writing section to see some tips on how writing practice can be made fun with pictures and diagrams.
  • Recounting stories and experiences
  • Asking others to compare favorites

Transportation

  • Cars, trains, planes and other large machinery

Houses

  • Different homes suitable for different environments
  • Layouts and objects inside a home, using tools and objects at home

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Age 5:

Families

  • Roles and responsibilities at home: this is a great time to start making contracts around the house to establish independence and routines, too. Contracts should start simple, just one step after a situation. For example, "If toys are left out, I will clean them up." Model some of your routines after your children's contracts, even if they're routines that are only for caretakers, such as driving to the grocery market.
  • Extended family connections and families that look different from your own

All About Me

  • Favorite objects and activities
  • Recounting stories and experiences: With most five-year-olds reaching a developmental stage where they love sharing and comparing, we highly recommend having students recount their stories in different ways. You'll be amazed how different an oral retelling of recess could be from writing.
  • Asking others to compare favorites

My Body

  • Naming body parts and how they’re used
  • Short term changes (small injuries) and long term changes (growing taller)

Babies

  • Showing younger children how to complete tasks
  • Welcoming new siblings or classmates

Pets

  • Being responsible for the care of another being

Our school

  • Layout of the buildings, the classroom as a second home
  • Working together with peers and growing friendships

Seasonal themes

  • Weather
  • How environmental objects change

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Age 6:

Families

  • Responsibilities
  • Extended family and families that look different from your own

Friends

  • Similarities with “best friends”
  • Cooperative activities
  • Building layouts, the classroom as a second home

Our school

  • Other classes, differences in routines and culture

Workers in our school

  • Supporting roles, i.e. principals, food service

Jobs people do in our community

  • Especially easily observed jobs

Nature topics

  • How flora and fauna sustain themselves
  • Where animals live
  • Cycles (life, water, etc.)

Losing teeth

  • Hard to ignore!

Cultural, racial, language, and other differences among people

  • Similarities
  • Respecting differences--your own or in others

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Age 7:

Our neighborhood

  • People beyond our family and school
  • Layout, favorite spots

How systems work

  • How food is harvested and distributed
  • Plumbing, electricity
  • Production of art, i.e. movies

Jobs people do

  • New affinity for job specialization, i.e. “astronaut” to “biology researcher in space”

Things we are good at

  • Skills and how we can build them
  • Building talent into a skill

Cultural and racial diversity and discrimination

  • How people are similar
  • Respecting differences--your own or in others
  • Fairness and how we can change injustices

Natural science topics

  • How flora and fauna sustain themselves
  • Where animals live
  • Cycles (life, water, etc.)

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Age 8:

Our community (interdependence)

  • People beyond our family and school
  • How people in and outside of our neighborhoods contribute to our lives, i.e. postal system, college campuses

Community institutions

  • Shared facilities
  • How different jobs help a community

Long ago or far away

  • How children live in different countries or fantasy lands
  • Sci-fi and fantasy

Natural science topics

  • How flora and fauna sustain themselves
  • Cycles (life, water, etc.)
  • Interdependence among plants and animals

Cultural and racial diversity

  • How people are similar
  • Respecting differences--your own or in others
  • Fairness and how we can change injustices

 


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