My new saying or question is "Was it caught or taught?"
It seems we are expecting a lot of our children these days academically. I am in favor for most of it as these children are born digital natives and are different learners than you or me.
However, some things we need to teach, that we don't. One of them is how to pick a book to read.
In my classroom, I teach my students to read the first page of a book and see if they make 5 or more errors. If they do, the book is likely not their level and they should look for another book that they could read with less errors.
Today, I modeled for a little 4th grade friend of mine how to pick a good book to read. By this point most children are reading on their own. Parents either take them to the library to pick books out, or to Amazon on their reading device. Often we rely on recommendations from other parents or children. This is still a good way to pick a book.
However, what research tells us is that students comprehend better when they can make a connection with the text.
Here are some guidelines the next time you find your child needing to pick a book.
1-Start by grabbing an assortment of books. In the case of my friend, I grabbed 15 books in the area of historical fiction and non-fiction all in a range of books a little lower than her level to a little over her level.
2-Have them look at the cover of the books to see what they find appealing. We were able to eliminate a lot of books this way.
3-Encourage them to ask questions or ask them questions. Why did you remove that book from the selection? What did you like about this one you kept? You're looking to see if they are connecting with one of the books more than the other.
4-Read the back of the book to see what the summary says about the book. Eliminate again some choices. And again ask questions.
5-If you don't know the level of the books you should. My classroom books are labeled with AR or DRA levels. In this case we looked at the levels of the books that remained left to see if that ruled out any that might be too hard or too easy.
6-After a few more questions about the books that were left (4 historical fiction and 1 biography) we narrowed it down to two books.
7-Now I had my friend read the first page of each book to check a few things. 1) Is this book truly her level? 2) Did she find one more interesting than the other? 3) Was there one she just wanted to read more about?
Answer: YES! She picked a great I Survived Book.
IF, your student is picking a book from the web/reading device I encourage you to still follow these steps. You can teach your child how to find a summary of the book, reviews from people who have read the book, and in some cases you can download a portion of the book to see if it's a purchase you want to make.
Next post I will discuss how I started to teach my friend comprehension strategies to help her as she reads. You can do it with your own child at home as well.
Before we can take a journey into literacy we need to lay the foundation to start from. Parents have read to their children starting from the time they are in the womb. We know that reading to our children early on and exposure to books will help build a reader. The more our children read the better readers they become. In fact, articles have been popping up all over the internet, newspapers and magazines claiming that studies now show reading makes you not just a better reader but also a happier, nicer, smarter and more of a leader.
I remember reading to both my children while I was pregnant. My husband would also read to them. Being a teacher and a fanatic of books I knew that I would read and expose my children to books from the moment they took their first breath. We read to our children day in and day out. We read when they sat in the tub and when they sat on the potty. I can recall when my oldest daughter, Sofia, started talking. Her first word was "outside" followed by "broccoli". She always had an extensive vocabulary as a young child. It likely came from a Mary Engelbreit book my hubby read to hear nightly. I still remember vividly when my husband ran into the room to announce our daughter had read to him.
She was barely 2.
I asked him to describe what she did. So, he demonstrated. He held the book out and read the words and she started "reading" them with him. Now, I know she wasn't actually sounding out the words. She had memorized the words and pictures just as you would to a favorite song you listen to daily. So was she reading?
Well, kind of. You see reading is built upon. She was learning the connection between the words you speak and the words you see. She was learning that you follow the words on a page. She was beginning to understand the connection of the pictures to the words. The connections were being built. The foundation was being laid.
If you want to build a reader you need to read to your child and your child needs to see you reading.
Wife, Mom, Educator and Lifelong Learner