Monday, August 2, 2010

Words to the "Why's"

Based on your comments to me, I want to take what your wrote, expand upon it, and validate the WHY's of departing the text.  I want to discuss what's in it for you and your children (other than instilling a love of reading - reason enough).

As I touched upon in "Goodnight Sweet Gems,"  when you depart from the text you are building and enriching language skills, creativity and problem solving skills, attention, memory, sequencing skills, and you are building relationships on various levels.  I explain in greater detail below.  And, while I include suggestions, future articles will go into much greater detail:

1. Language.  When you depart the text you are providing your child with opportunities to practice communicating. And, when your kids ask questions, they are exercising language skills just in formulating the questions. 

In a comment to the previous blog entry, "Atxteacher" shared:
"...I have [to] remind myself that it's not about getting the book read, it's about the whole experience. You see, he asks questions constantly throughout the reading. "What is this mouse doing?" ... The text on the page isn't about the mouse or the cat! But a good book with rich illustrations has a much deeper and extensive story, sometimes with secondary stories told in the illustrations... "- Atxteacher
  •  When your kids ask questions, they are exercising language skills just in formulating the questions as well as the responses. 
  • When your child asks questions about the pictures, you might want to first have your child answer the questions.  Then expand on his or her ideas and use of language.  Depart as far and as much as they will let you.  
  • A note on expanding their language: It is important to develop their ideas and sentences so they are richer, more complex, and of greater detail.  Enrich the vocabulary.  Make the sentences and grammar more complex.  And if your child makes a mistake with a word or grammar, you don't have to "correct" it directly, just repeat the sentence or thought more accurately.  The more comfortable your child is using diverse language and sentence structure in his or her speech, the easier reading and writing will be (more on this in future blogs).

2. Problem Solving and Creativity.  When you discuss how a character is facing a problem, how someone may feel, or what might happen next, you are brainstorming and modeling how to solve problems.  By asking what the you think will happen in what you are about to read just by looking at the title or illustration, you are fostering creativity and modeling problem solving as well.  As Adrian (who home schools her kids and blogs at noted:
"I read to my boys all of the time. Currently, we are reading about the Monster Squad. We depart from the text often in an effort to let imaginations create what we think the result will be. This is fun leading up to the end of the chapter!!"
Charity also expands on this:
... one of our favorite things to do was make up our own stories for the pictures. The kids loved doing that (some more than others) and now I have budding writers living with me...
  • To figure out what happens next or what a title might mean, your child has to factor in various events and possible conclusions - skills we use all the time to figure out what we do next, which computer to buy, etc. 
  • You can build creativity and problem solving by asking questions related to the reading but that requires your child to find the answer on his or her own.  For example, in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, ask your child where Max and the Wild Things live and what their houses like? (But ask this only if they have NOT seen the movie - or even before they see it and then compare the movie's houses to the ones your child imagined.)
  • Music is another wonderful creative opportunity for departure as Talia pointed out in her comment to my last blog entry.  There are often opportunities to stop reading and make up your own songs.  (We made our own rumpus song for the Wild Things.)  The point Talia makes is that there are so many opportunities to depart - it is up to you and your child to find them.  And, that is the fun of all of this - finding common points of departure.  She noted in her comment:
"...As someone who is musically inclined, I don't remember the plot of Abiyoyo anymore, but still remember the entire song. For this reason, I remember the book fondly."

3. Attention.  When you depart the text, you are extending the amount of time your child sits with you and attends to a book. The more you depart and extend your reading time, the easier it will be for him or her to attend to reading and to conversations for longer and longer periods of time. (I will be discussing this a lot more as well.)

    4. Memory.  When you depart the text you will be tapping:
    • past experiences, 
    • stored vocabulary, 
    • linking new ideas and concepts thus expanding memory and creating more extensive memory paths.  
    Another way you are tapping memory is that after departing, you have to return to the story.  To practice memory skills, you may want to ask you child, "Now where were we?"  This will help him or her with memory strategies, with language (retelling the story) and with sequencing.

    5. Sequencing.  Sequencing is in everything we do, we just don't always think about it (and I will talk a lot more about in future blogs).  Schedules (involve sequences of time), tying a shoe, math problems, science experiments, following directions, remembering dates, telling a joke - all involve types of sequences.
    • So when retelling the story, you are helping reinforce your child's sequencing skills.  
    • You can also do this when you read chapter books.  Before ending a read aloud session ask your child what she thinks will happen next (also helps with language, problem solving and creativity), and before reading at the next session ask him to recap what was just read.

    6. Building Relationships.  Departing the texts builds relationships on various levels.
    • From a cognitive or thinking perspective, it builds relationships between events or things that the author may or may not have intended, but that is meaningful to you and your child.  It basically helps your child learn.
    • Departing the text also helps build personal relationships between you and your child.  As I mentioned above part of the fun of reading is finding common points of departure to take with your child.  I remember my mother reading aloud to me and talking about the books - even when I was in high school.  She thought I might be too old, but I begged her to read and I still thank her for it. 

    I hope the content above was informative and validating - please let me know.  And to those hesitating on the fringe, there is always room for more voices!


    1. Thank you for this post!

      My oldest son took to reading quickly and became an independent reader at an early age.

      My second son, however, is very different. At first, I thought he had a problem with his reading skills because he seemed to read so slowly. However, our Education Specialist suggested that I wasn't seeing the forest for the trees. My seven year old was examining the pictures and comparing the details to earlier illustrations. He was commenting on the text and trying to figure out what was going to happen. He was relating things in the story to his own life.

      I didn't really understand what my ES was saying until I read your post. More is happening with my middle son than acquiring basic reading skills. And I don't want to shortchange that.

    2. Absolutely. Just keep reading to him and instill a love for reading. My son was very similar. I realized he would define words with analogies. As a result he too was slower, initially. Now he reads avidly and is a very gifted writer. Just keep nurturing his skills, involving his affinities. It should fall into place. If you have questions, always feel free to ask, but is sounds like you are doing a wonderful job!
      Thanks for the comment!

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