Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Comprehension Talk

Yesterday I told you the most important thing about working with your child is to really get in and be a partner -- a mutual reader. Be real with them...they know the difference between you "imparting knowledge" and simply relating.

Trust me, the more you simply relate to your child as a reader, the more you will see them WILLING to read, and EXCITED to read.

We talked about having hunches. Today, I want you to talk about when you find something interesting or surprising.

For example, when the story or character takes an unexpected turn -- react! Say something. I would say "Hey, look there! I didn't think xyz was going to happen! All along, I thought xyz, but no, they did this! I WONDER WHY!???"

That last part is crucial. Wondering causes you to continue. Otherwise, it is simply a reaction. Ho Hum, they did something different.

Also, say something about when something doesn't ring true -- either a character has done something atypical to the normal world, or atypical to their personalities. For example, I use a book called "That's Mine, Horace" in my classroom. It involves two characters in school...one takes something that doesn't belong to him, and lies about it. He actually feels so guilty, he gets sick and stays home. The class sends him get well notes -- the unexpected is that when he reads the note from the child whose item he has, the child is very kind and non accusitory. ATYPICAL of kids. Perfect time to talk. I say "Hey -- look how Walter handled that situation. That's not what I normally see kids do. They usually tattle or accuse them of stealing...I wonder why he did that? What do you think?"

See??? That kind of talk makes them THINK about the story. I think we assume too much that kids are understanding books inherently to the level of complexity that we are. Nope. We need to get them to see that kind of thinking.

Another think to point out as interesting or surprising is places where you are just kind of "woken up" -- places where light bulbs kind of pop into your head. It's where "aha" things happen. For example, right after Wemberly's teacher in Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes is talking with the parents, she "decides" there is someone that Wemberly needs to meet. She immediately introduces her to Jewel. Now, I would say, "Hey! I bet Wemberly's parents might have told the teacher that Wemberly was really worried all the time, especially about school. I think that because #1, as a teacher I have had that experience and the first thing I would do is help her find a friend, #2, as a mom I would have said something to the teacher, and #3, the teacher introduces her RIGHT AFTER talking with mom and dad."

Remember, be real. React like you do as a reader.

So go ahead, be surprised and find interesting parts...and TALK!

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