Discipline: Professional Resources
Grade(s): K - 2
Program Type: Core
Author(s): Lucy Calkins
What makes a book "just right" for a beginning reader? The answer is simple. A book is just right if the child can read it and wants to read it. Anything else is "just okay" at best. But, if you work with beginning readers, you know it's not easy to find these "just right" books.
On the one hand, there are books that beginners want to read but can't. Most picture books and chapter books fall into this category. Surprisingly, so do many of the early readers and I-can-reads you see in libraries and bookstores. On the other hand, too many of the decodable books that we see in classrooms aren't particularly enticing, even if beginners can read them. We think beginning readers deserve better.
We want all readers to begin as we aim for them to continue—with enthusiasm for reading and excitement to pick up the next book.
Influential reading researchers Richard Anderson and Freddy Hiebert described the key qualities that educators should look for in books for beginning readers in a report they wrote for the National Academy of Education. They wrote:
"Writing the first selections a child will read is a difficult balancing act. Ideally, the selections will be:
Of course, a quality that underlies all of this is representation. When books are an accurate reflection of our beautifully diverse world, children find them considerably more interesting and comprehensible, so we added that foundational idea to the list of essential priorities that informed the development of the Jump Rope Readers series.
The Jump Rope Readers series consists of 66 high-interest decodable books and six accompanying read-alouds, organized into two classroom sets, each composed of two boxes. Together, these books gradually and systematically introduce beginning readers to new letter-sound correspondences and high-frequency words. Along the way, they also introduce memorable characters, exciting adventures, and the foundational elements of literary fiction.
Set A includes:
30 decodable books* (6 copies of each) that introduce short vowels, consonants, bonus letters, blends, digraphs, CV words, and a small selection of high-frequency words. Digital access is included.
6 Read-Aloud books
Getting Started Guide
Set B includes:
36 decodable books (6 copies of each) that introduce silent E, inflectional endings, vowel teams, R-controlled vowels, diphthongs, consonant -LE, soft C and G, the jobs of Y, multisyllabic words, and a broader selection of high-frequency words. Digital access is included.
Getting Started Guide
As you explore the Jump Rope Readers, you'll notice the books are arranged into different series, each starring a distinctive main character. In addition to Nick, who loves dinosaurs, there's Ana with her big imagination, Tam, who's full of energy and mischief, Imran, who's a bit shy at first, and many more. All the Jump Rope Readers take place in the same neighborhood, so characters from earlier books make special guest appearances in later ones.
Example: Titles in the Red Series, featuring Tam and Nat
The fact that the Jump Rope Readers are arranged into series makes them more engaging to kids, and also makes them especially comprehensible. Series books feature familiar characters who react to problems in predictable ways. Once kids know who the characters are, they know what to expect, and this helps them follow the story. To ensure that kids understand the key characters and their relationships, each series begins with a "book one" that lays out these elements. In set A, "book one" is a picture book that teachers can read aloud to kids. In set B, it's a decodable book that kids can read on their own.
When kids open a book and see characters who look, live, or act like them, it helps them connect not only to the characters, but to the act of reading.
Like all decodable books, the Jump Rope Readers start off simple, then gradually grow in complexity as more phonics content is added. The books follow a scope and sequence of letter-sound correspondences and high-frequency words that aligns with the phonics progression behind the Units of Study—and this same progression, or one quite similar to it, informs most other phonics programs as well.
Within this progression, the texts don't introduce every letter-sound correspondence in the English language (there are over two hundred), but rather focus on those letter-sound correspondences that occur most frequently in print, providing kids with an efficient path toward more advanced reading.
Overall, the scope and sequence offers a steady "ramp" into early trade books. By the time students have finished the last Jump Rope Reader, they'll have lots of letter-sound correspondences under their belts, and they'll be ready to tackle familiar series such as Fly Guy, Yasmin, Henry and Mudge, or Sofia Martinez. Ready, that is, for a deep dive into the wider world of children's literature.
Download the Scope and Sequence for the titles within each set.