Transport To a New Place

imgresThere is no refuting the overwhelming evidence that a solid early literacy foundation translates to greater successes later in life but yet I have heard from parents that it is difficult to find the time to read to their school-aged children.

It’s true that when our young school aged children are often tired when they get home from school, finish off their homework and attend their various activities but there is inherent value of being read to.

About a year ago, Marcelle introduced me to the series Canadian Flyer by Frieda Wishinsky (similar to The Magic Treehouse series but the emphasis is on Canadian history).  This Christmas, I gifted to my boys the first in the series, Pirates Beware! We have since devoured several books in the series.

The boys sat and listened as I read them chapter after chapter.  Their attention did not wane from the first word that I read to the time that I closed the book.

Finding the time to dedicate to read each night did not prove to be inconvenient.  In fact the boys and I look forward to each night discovering what our “friends” are up to.

As the boys grow confident in their own ability to read, they enjoy being read to even more than when they were toddlers holding board books.  Now they can sit and listen for longer periods of time and while they enjoy looking at the occasional illustration peppered throughout an early novel, they are just as content to let their imagination do the creating for them.

Literacy is about more than simply reading, it also encompasses comprehension (understanding what the story is about) and inferencing (thinking about what will happen next, how characters were feeling, why characters may have acted in a certain way, etc.).

I like to engage my boys while I am reading to them.  I ask questions:

–       What do you think will happen next?

–       Why do you think she acted that way?

–       Has anything like that ever happened to you?

–       What a would you do if you were in his shoes?

At the end of each chapter, I ask them the 3 R’s:

  1. To Retell what happened.
  2. To think of how they are able to Relate to what the characters experienced.
  3. To Reflect on what happen and suggest what may happen next, or why something happened the way that it did – make a connection.

The Three R’s of Writing

To take it steps further consider your child’s interests.  My oldest enjoys drawing.  After I have finished reading aloud a chapter book, he writes a reflective sentence about the book (maybe something he learned) and draws a picture to accompany the sentence.  Then he stores the page in a binder.  This binder is a fantastic tool to have on hand for when grandparents or friends come visiting.  Your child can proudly share and retell the story with grandma the stories he has been enjoying through the reflection pages that he has completed.

If your child is more like my other son and prefers the computer to a paint set, why not engage his interest?  We keep a list of interesting facts or tidbits as we read through the book (e.g. pirates got scurvy) and once the novel is complete we take our list to the Internet and further research those interesting facts.

He looked up pictures of scurvy and maps of the Canadian Arctic, discovered that Captain Frobisher looked nothing like what he’d imagined!  There is a plethora of fantastic kids websites that do a fantastic job of integrating technology with history thereby creating a fun and engaging way to learn about the past.

Always remember that reading should be a transformative experience.  For those hours spent deeply engaged in a story, your child has the chance to escape their reality and virtually experience something different without the use of screens, remotes or controllers but through the power of the written word and the imagination.

Resources worth checking out:

Kidspace

Turtle and Robot (fantastic suggestions – I have raved about them before)

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre

Guys Read

Educating Alice

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6 thoughts on “Transport To a New Place

  1. Thank you so much, Beth-Anne, for this amazing text. I have flagged it in my inbox for future reference. I read to both my daughters every night and it is the time of day we most look forward to. As a teacher, I often try to talk parents into the immense benefits of reading aloud to their children long after they learn to read well, but it seems to be a lost battle, sometimes.

    • Thank you for the kind words. I love reading to them. My older one is a tough sell. He doesn’t like many books but I am determined to keep trying. There are books out there for everyone 🙂

  2. This is great! How old are your children?
    When we first found out I was pregnant, one of the things I got the most excited about was what books I might read to Oscar (now one year old). The Little Prince, Little House on the Prairie, etc. I love books and have read a few to my husband as well – it’s so fun to enjoy and imagine together!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • My boys are 6,5, and almost 3. I read to them as toddlers, picture books, and they enjoyed them but there is something very special about sharing a novel with them.

      Ps – LOVE the name Oscar!

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