Learning to read is hard work! Figuring out the sounds, blending them together to form words, and stringing those words together to create smooth sentences is a process. Fluent reading encompasses accuracy, appropriate speed, and just the right amount of expression.
When my kids were around ages 6-8, they had become pretty good at sounding out individual words. But their reading sounded robotic and mechanical — not smooth and conversational. Like many parents, I wondered if there was some secret sauce that could help them jump into that next phase of fluent reading.
And there was! That secret sauce turned out to be the delightful Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems. They were the first books I thought of for several reasons. First, I knew they were full of dialogue with just the right amount of words on the page (to not overwhelm my readers with decoding), plus picture support for proper reading expression (wonderfully expressive faces and body language), and lastly, they were familiar favorites.
A major part of reading fluency is being able to decode (i.e., sound out and truly understand) the words on the page. The Elephant & Piggie books use words that a child reading at a mid to late first-grade level is realistically able to decode. There are no superfluous words or details and yet, word repetition is aplenty. And, because the books are conversational and written entirely with speech bubbles, the dialogue gives kids great practice in reading with expression and sounding more conversational.
The #1 reason Elephant & Piggie helped my kids achieve reading fluency: They lend themselves to being read aloud, and even performed as a play.