Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Next Step and an Example

Ok, so now you and your child have looked at your current reading life. It's time to ask yourself, what is it that I want? What are my goals?

I don't have to go into the explanation of why goals are important. You know that. But...your child might need you to spend some time talking about why READING is important, and why goals are important.

HOWEVER...don't give them a list of reasons. That gives them the impression that reading is a task to be accomplished, and it doesn't become part of them.

I have found in teaching that it is FAR more effective to talk to them about why I am passionate about it , why I find it important, and why I chose my goals. It's contagious, I promise. You may need to spend a minute right now making an inventory for yourself.

There will be many of your kids who don't have any idea of goals...but they may very well surprise you. They do know what they need to grow, and sometimes set very lofty endeavors.

Our job is to help them break down the long term goal into manageable steps.

Let's focus on one example which involves book selection and stamina:

My son Ben told me he wanted to read a chapter book cover to cover without skipping and reading something else in between or abandoning it. A great goal...but I knew he hadn't been successful in several attempts to do that over the year, so we set up some smaller steps.

First, we started by talking about what kind of book - fiction, nonfiction, what topic, etc. Depending on how well you know your child and your child knows their interests, this could be a short or long discussion. Many kids haven't found that spark in any particular book, and that may be a goal in itself. Book selection is going to be 90% of the deal...It's so crucial!

He had a hard time, so I laid out about 6 books in his "just right" level for him to look at (just right books can be found early on in the blog). He read the blurbs (on the back of the book or book jackets) and then narrowed it to two. We talked about the reasons he picked those two. I asked this important question: "What is SPECIFICALLY pulling you to this book?" I want to see if his motivation is intrinsic, knee-jerk, or general. The more specific and internally motivated, the more likely he will be to stick with it, enjoy it, and want to read again.

We had just finished the book Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper in class (AMAZING book by the way...see earlier posts about it...I can't rave enough about it), so he chose Wonder by RJ Palacio. It's about a boy who was born with a prominent facial deformity who is going to school for the first time as a 5th grader. Ben told me that he wanted to learn more about another person who is different that himself like Melody in Out of My Mind who has to work to do everyday things that are easy for him and like Rick and Dick Hoyt (real life dad and son who do Ironman competitions together - dad pulls/pushes adult son who has severe cerebral palsy).

Three things stood out from his answer that made me think this was a match. #1 - he was connecting it to  another book that had him captivated. He had invested in a character -- he cared. I knew this because he called her by name and understood that he learned not to take things he does for granted. #2, he was relating it to something inspiring to him. Finally, he wanted to know more.

For his goal, we made a reading log and he set a daily amount of pages he'd like to shoot for. I estimated the time it would take him to finish the book and we looked at it on the calendar. We talked about what was going to be challenging (reading every day) and that there would be obstacles (friends, pool, TV, etc.) that would be enticing for him rather than reading. He and I came up with a plan for how we'd handle those situations. He suggested a time in the day that he thought would work best too.

So far, he's been doing well. I might add that I read the book he's reading, so we are able to talk about it along the way. Secondly, the book is well written and has a great story line, so he's pulled in.

Tomorrow I will give you a list of the books I have bought/read recently.

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