Most of us understand the value of reading to our children on a daily basis, and it can become the loveliest time in a busy day. A chance for some down time and just to read for the wonder of being transported to a different place and time. Reading with children does not, and should not, always be a formal learning experience. However it is great to get into the habit of creating dialogue around children’s books.
It is beyond exciting when your child starts to decipher words in a text, and we can get so caught up in this excitement that we forget another critical element in the reading process…reading for meaning. I see plenty of very young children who are capable of reading the words in long chapter books, but ask them a few questions about the content of the book and many are lost for words.
Decoding, and pronouncing words aloud are important elements, reading for meaning is I believe the element that creates lifelong readers.
Reading for Meaning
Not all the time, but when we’ve got time and Pudstar is in the mood, I will talk to her about her book using prompts and questions like;
Look at the cover, what do you think this story might be about?
Can you find the authors name on the cover? The illustrator? See how the title starts with a capital letter?
What do you think of the illustrations in the book? Do you think the illustrator painted them? Drew them? Are the collaged? Photographs?
What do you think might happen next in the story?
How do you think this story is going to end?
I used to get super annoyed at the Chief Before Bed Reader (Dan) when I’d tell him to talk to PudStar as he was reading. He’d look at me blankly and say “don’t I just start at the beginning and read to the end?” and “I love reading with her, don’t make it a chore”. As it turned out, most of my friends also looked me blankly. Apparently teacher librarians are more into children’s book dialogue than most town planners, builders, professors of maths, electricians and nurses. Who would have thunk it huh?
So here’s what I did for the Chief Before Bed Reader and Pud. They love it, and you might find it useful too:
Book Lucky Dip
The Chief Before Bed Reader and PudStar now have a lucky dip game after books, when they feel like it. They choose a lucky dip each and have a chat when they finish the book. It’s not formal, it’s not a lesson…it is just about creating a book dialogue. And lo and behold the other night I caught Dan asking Pud about what she thought of the cover of his current read, ‘Game of Thrones’. Totally inappropriate reading material for a four year old…but hey who am I to whinge about book talk.
These are our current lucky dips, I update them when I think of it and will update them here too;
If you were the author of the story would you have ended it the same way?
What did you like or dislike about this book?
What do you think the author was trying to say to us? What helped you figure out the message?
What part of the story was the most exciting or interesting?
Which character was your favourite? Why?
Did any of the characters remind you of anyone that you know?
Can you think of any other books that are similar to this one?
Which is your favourite illustration? Why?
Look at the cover…did it give you clues about the story?
Point to these parts of the book when I call them: spine, front cover, back cover, blurb, title!
How did this book make you feel? Was it a happy book? Thoughtful? A bit scary? An adventure?
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