a good-night book walk

Mar 13, 2009 // 3 comments // Categories: comprehension, reading, retelling // Tags: , , , , , , .

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a good-night book walk | retelling, summarizing, speaking & moreTonight when I returned from tutoring, I went up to say goodnight to Maddy, and she was drowsily looking at a few of the million books we lugged home from the library yesterday. I asked what she was “reading”, and she said it was one that she and her dad had just read tonight.

She asked me to read it to her again, but, because it was already waaaaay past her bedtime, I said I wouldn’t read it but I would read it tomorrow.

She asked if she could take me on a book walk instead. I agreed (who wouldn’t have?), and here’s what we did:

  • Book Walk: Maddy literally “walked” me through the book, starting at the beginning and telling me the story in her very own words.

She used the pictures and words she recognized on the page as her guide. The title of this book was “D.W. All Wet” by Marc Brown, and it’s actually great for this kind of activity. Like most of Marc Brown’s books (he writes the Arthur series), there’s a very clear plot line, and easy plot lines make books more memorable for emerging readers.

As Maddy walked me through the book, I asked a question if I had one, but otherwise I just tried to show her I was listening by repeating what she had said or paraphrasing every other page or so. I laughed at funny parts, or made comments about D.W. as she went on. It is amazing to me how children are able to repeat whole or partial phrases and sentences when they do this.

At the end, we just chatted about the book. I asked if she could tell me about a time when she felt the same way that D.W. did–either at the beginning of the book, when D.W. was afraid to swim, or at the end when she didn’t want to get out of the ocean.

Having Maddy make this personal connection with D.W. and the text can help her to better understand what happened and why D.W. made the choices she did. It also teaches her how to have an intelligent conversation about a book she likes and a character she can relate to.

Doing something like a book walk is often a component in the first stages of a Guided Reading lesson, when a teacher uses it to familiarize students with a text, but a book walk used the way Maddy did tonight can help improve retelling, which–especially when done without a text–can be very difficult for emerging or advanced readers. Retelling is a learned skill, that, like most other reading comprehension strategies, can be taught even before readers can decode the text on their own.

Talk about some late-night learning in our day! I’m ready for bed. . .

For more information:


Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G. (2000). Interactive writing: How language and literacy come together, K-2. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Hickey, M.G. (1998). Developing critical reading readiness in primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 42, 192-193.

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Comment (3) | Leave a comment

  1. Great idea! We also love book walks for having big sis “read” to her little brother. This is a great way for an emerging reader to share the words that she recognizes while telling the story that she has memorized. And it gets them to stop wrestling for a minute or two, which is always good. :)

  2. Oh, and p.s. You’re famous! ;)http://familyeden.net/?p=557

  3. Thanks, RM! Thanks for mentioning me on one of your awesome sites!


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