Book Discussions and Children

by Mary Ann on March 1, 2014



Reading to Children


Reading to childrenSunday is the birthday of Dr. Seuss and in honor of that Maggie’s school had an assembly and kicked of a month long reading contest. I was there and here is what I noticed. Everyone wants to win the contest. Maggie’s class won last year and they want to win this year. Yesterday her class had five books read to them by participating adults. Some readers were very interesting and some read in a monotone and were soooooo boring. Some readers obviously liked what they were reading and some felt uncomfortable. Some were good readers and some adults stumbled while reading all those rhymy words. The children were glad to have the books read to them even if the readers weren’t comfortable or if they were a bit boring.

But here is what I noticed the most. There was virtually no interaction between the reader and the children, about the content of the books. A couple of the readers said something like this: isn’t that funny, wouldn’t you be scared, or what do you think of that. But these were rhetorical questions because time wasn’t given to the children to answer. If a child did try to answer they were asked to not interrupt so that the reading could go on. This is how most of us are reading to children.

A Better Way When Reading to Children

But there is a better way when we are reading to children! So many great discussions can be had even with tiny tots.summer Lets take the Story of  The Little Red Hen for example. What if you asked questions like this to a four or five year old as you read the story: Are you ever like the cat when someone wants you to help them? How do you think The Little Red Hen felt when no one would help her? When the little Red Hen just went ahead and made the bread by herself what do you think her chicks thought? What was the mommy hen showing them?

Can you see just how interesting and educational even the simplest story could be if the reader took the time to engage with those they were reading to. When it comes to reading to children it isn’t ever really about how many books we read. It is all about the questions we ask, the ideas we ponder, the principles we see and how the knowledge we gain is transferred to our lives.

Great Tutorial for Reading to Children?

When you are reading to younger children, it has been my experience that it isn’t at all hard to get them to think about what is happening and how they would feel and it isn’t very hard to get them to talk to you about it. However, as children begin learning to read and become more self conscious among others it may take a bit more work to get them to discuss a book. Here is a great tutorial from Audrey Rindlisbacher  at the Tenboom Institute about getting children ages 10-12 to engage with you and the books they are reading.

Reading to a child or with a child is wonderful but helping a child to think and talk about what they are reading…well that is a magnificent thing to do!

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