Mar 29 2023
by Jennifer Emmett
DK Super Readers Supercharge Reading
“The whole world opened up to me when I learned to read.” —Mary McCleod Bethune
Kids can do all kinds of super things. Some are super jumpers, super singers, super swimmers, or super smilers. One thing kids need to be? Super readers. Strong, confident reading is one of the most empowering skills that a child can learn. The DK Super Readers program is specifically designed to help kids be reading superheroes.
Not only is reading a critical life skill, so is a subset of reading—nonfiction literacy. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) January 2023 statement makes this clear: “Cultivating children’s information literacy at the earliest of ages is an essential element of 21st-century literacy learning.” [i] The DK Super Readers are carefully structured to introduce beginning and developing readers to nonfiction.
It all starts with the topic. Getting kids interested in reading begins with their own interests. Many kids gravitate toward stories and fiction with characters and dialogue, which they hear first read aloud, and then they learn to read on their own. Other kids are much more interested in information, in facts, and often have passion topic areas that become their own mini fields of expertise. The kids who love dinosaurs, sharks, space, or the rain forest are so driven to learn more about their own interest area that they overcome reading reluctance to embrace a self-selected book. Compelling photography in a colorful design helps make the reading experience fun while reinforcing learning and the drive to decode words.
The DK Super Readers program began with a team of experts mapping curriculum topics and Lexile levels against reading developmental level and grade level to formulate a program that meets kids’ needs at each progressive stage. Elaine Larson, an educator and instructional designer, analyzed curriculum standards from Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), standards from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) as well as the National Geography Standards, and recommended topic areas. Dr. Jennifer Albro, an educator and reading specialist, looked at a variety of leveling systems across emergent, beginning, transitional, intermediate, and skillful reading and established easy-to-understand reading levels for the series:
- Pre-Level – Learning to Read
- Level 1 – Beginning to Read
- Level 2 – Beginning to Read Independently
- Level 3 – Reading Independently
- Level 4 – Reading Confidently
A team of editors and writers overlaid high-interest topics for kids, so that Science: Engineering Design (K–2): Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem for emergent readers became Big Buildings for PL – Learning to Read. Growth and Development of Organisms – Animals for transitional readers became Sloths for L2 – Beginning to Read Independently.