Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Reading Tip #1

Have you been reading every day so far this summer? I hope so! I have been inhaling books like you wouldn’t believe. I have been reading a novel a day pretty much. I am so grateful for our public library. Imagine if we didn’t have that amazing resource! We are so, so, so lucky to be able to read so many wonderful books.
I wanted to take a minute to send out a reading tip for parents. I really want the students to maintain or increase their reading abilities over the summer and that means doing some thinking and talking about their reading!

Beginning readers often get so involved in decoding the letters and words that they forget to stop and think about their reading.
I tell them that reading is like a sandwich.
On one slice of bread is the words - being able to read them and know how to say them properly.
On the other slice is the comprehension or understanding what the words mean and how they come together to form ideas within a story.
You have to have both sides of the sandwich for it to be complete, for it to make sense and be a proper sandwich.
So, today I want to talk a little bit about comprehension. There are different strategies good readers use to help them comprehend what they are reading. I will be going over many of them this summer. But for today we are focusing on...
 Good readers make connections in three ways.
  • They connect the text to something personal about themselves (text to self)
  • They connect to something out in the world (text to world)
  • They connect to another book (text to text)
Making connections gets our schema working. Connections make a book more meaningful and they help us to enjoy what we are reading even more.
I think that making connections is one of the easiest strategies to use - especially the text to self type of connection. We all have life experiences and so we are all capable of finding something within a story with which to connect. I find that the older I get and the more my schema is filled with life experiences, other books, trips, information etc. the more I make connections in my reading without even having to stop and think if I have a connection. It is just there!
I am going to walk you through an example of making connections with a very simple story. Imagine I am reading the book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (I am pretty sure that there is not a child or parent in our continent who does not know this story).
Goodnight Moon

As I read, I stop every few pages and ask myself “Does that make me think of anything else?” or think to myself "That reminds me of..."
Each time I can answer or fill in what it reminds me of, I have made a connection! Just like that!
Here are some of my connections:
    Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the next generation
  1. This book makes me think about when I was little and my nanny, Wilson, would read to me. I still have my first hard copy of this book given to me in 1974. (text to self)
  2. This in turn makes me wonder about other children, in other countries reading this story. I wonder if they have this book in places like Africa. And, if they do, is it a prized possession?(text to world)
  3. The cow jumping over the moon reminds me of l the nursery rhyme it came from (text to text)
  4. The title makes me think of the book Goodnight Ipad which came out recently and which I read to my class, not in book format, but on the smartboard. So 21st Century!!!! (text to text)        
  5. A bowl full of mush makes me think of all the cream of wheat I ate as a child.(text to self)
  6. The ending where it says goodnight to the air and the stars etc. gives me a lovely, comfy feeling. It reminds me of the feeling of childhood. (text to self)
  7. The little old lady rocking in the room makes me think of the rocking chair that my Grandmama had on her back porch (text to self)
So, you see how reading something can make your mind go in all different directions? Most of the connections a young reader will make are of the text to self variety. Or, at least, they will probably be able to think of these more easily. Often I find that when reading one story, it will make a child think of another story (text to text). This is especially true of fairy tales. Text to world connections can be a little trickier for the beginning reader. It just depends on their personal life experience and how much is already in their schema.

Parents, you can help your child to make better connections by sitting down once or twice a week and reading to them. Pick a book that your child wants to read (it does not matter if they can read it or not) and then read out loud to your child. Stop every once in awhile to share a connection you make with the story, stop every once in awhile to ask your child if they have any connections. 

I don't care if your child is already reading chapter books. Create a time when they listen to you read and ask them to tell you their connections. Don't just leave them reading on their own all the time and assume that they are understanding everything that they read. Chances are very high that they are not!!!!!


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