Developed precisely for reluctant readers, the Just Imagine! books are easy-to-read, high-interest nonfiction. Written at a low readability level (4–5) for middle school and high school students, they build reading comprehension, critical-thinking and vocabulary skills.
Children’s earliest literacy experiences often involve fiction stories. As children learn to read on their own, narrative stories continue to make up a large part of their reading material. (This is changing; many nonfiction reading series have been introduced to allow more variety and choice in reading material for early readers.) The switch from learning to read to reading to learn remains a hurdle for many readers. Nonfiction makes up the bulk of what people need to read every day, yet many students, even proficient readers, often lack the skills necessary to understand and retain what they have read. Struggling readers face an even greater challenge.
Just Imagine! can help. This programme was designed for the struggling upper-middle and high school reader. It bridges the gap between narrative fictional tales and nonfiction articles and texts. The paperback books are chock-full of articles that interest young adolescents. The stories read like narratives, with the familiar pattern of beginning-middle-end. But the content is often nonfiction or based on actual events. Students gain concrete knowledge, garner reading success, and practice critical thinking skills.
The format is handy and fun — the books look almost like comic books, not reading primers. Dynamic illustrations add to the comic book feel and appeal to visual learners. The combination of low reading level and high interest topics encourages reading — and reading success. The short line length and slightly enlarged type makes it easy for the eye to follow the lines of print. The brevity of the stories allows students to feel a sense of accomplishment when they finish reading a complete story in a short time.
The Just Imagine! books contain many nonfiction stories. Others are fictionalized historical accounts. Some stories are identified as urban legends or ghost stories. Whatever the genre of a particular story, readers are encouraged to think about what they are reading. The activities that accompany the books build and reinforce vocabulary, practice reading-comprehension skills, and challenge students to think critically. Do students find a particular explanation of a strange event believable? Why or why not? What connections do they see between two stories? How would they react if they were a character facing a fantastic event? Such questions engage readers in the stories and invest them in the reading process. They also teach students that all readers, even those with reading fluency problems, bring something to reading; their ideas count. Giving students the sense that they are entitled to be readers is a great gift, one that Just Imagine! can help offer.
Teacher’s Guides include reproducibles for reinforcement, enrichment, and vocabulary development.