For the past few weeks, we’ve tried an experiment at home with our books.
We’re big fans of books. More books = More reading.
While this maybe true, we certainly found that we also noticed that the reading wasn’t what we were expecting.
We would find piles of books and keen children looking through them, flipping pages, reading parts and sharing the books with each other. All good success criteria for us as parents. Yes the children are engaging in books.
Taking a pile of the books I knew one of the children were reading I ask some basic comprehension type questions about who were the characters, what problem happened? how did they solve it? What was interesting or funny? Show me your favourite bit? Okay, not all those questions every time or for each book but a few of these or others.
This was different to our usual cuddle and read sessions.
I started to notice a pattern in the responses. The basic questions about characters, settings, time period and yes no answers were usually spot on; quick and clearly they knew. But the other questions they shifted on their feet or chair it was harder to get any type of answer that didn’t drift onto another topic.
Now I know children are prone to wander off topic and I love that about our conversations but this felt different. I asked about the characters at the end of the books and soon realised that while they loved reading books, could predict events and answer quetions. They were reading just the beginnings of most of their books and skimming the rest or just moving on.
Here’s us thinking that giving them a wide variety and amount of books would be good but seeing their responses I realized that they weren’t going deep at all.
No Deeper read.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t mean them to go deep on every book. But I see I’ve not focussed well on giving them time to go deep. If you have so many books around it gives the impression so many books so little time.
Read and move on . Read and move on.
They were just efficiently reading and I didn’t catch it.
What we did
- We talked about reading whole books.
- We watched part of a movie and didn’t watch the ending for a few days. They kept asking about the end and endless conversations were going on about what they think would happen. It was interesting to talk to them about a book that made them do that. What we should have done is shared a few books that made us do that ( my hubby and I)
- Reduced their book shelf and started a seasonal rotation.
All the books were put into a pile. Have you ever done that? It’s pretty amazing to see how many books each child has and evaluate if they are really books you want in the home. Each shelf was drastically reduced to lots of space and very few books.
Every 3 months on the change of the season ( Our plan is) we get a different box of books out. The books themselves aren’t necessarily seasonal but anchoring it to a time period around the 21st of the Season change helps the rotation to happen. We all have good intentions but if it’s not scheduled it’s likely not to happen in our family.
- Just seeing them reading isn’t enough. Asking comprehension questions more consistently with the older children and remembering to do so with the youngest every now and again.
- Mixing up the comprehension questions. I noticed we did a lot of predictive questions and I need to find a wider range. I know there are lists of questions about. I need a prompt to remind me. ( Any suggestions?)
In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed much deeper reading going on. They are becoming more familiar with the books that are out.
Instead of flicking through many many books they have a handful and connect better with the characters. I hear talk in their conversations and imaginative play. It’s still a work in progress and I see them get bored with the book part way through and they still put it down many times and pick up another.
New habits are hard.
We’ve gone from a sprint to a 5K and their stamina and resistance isn’t quite there yet.
Are there books your child goes to again and again?
Any suggestions for us?
How do you encourage deep reading?
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