I’m not going to lie–some summer days, I really think that if it weren’t for the 15 minutes of Adult Swim, my kids wouldn’t stop moving all day long.
Even the rest times that I once relied on as a definite break to our day, Maddy has renamed as ‘play time’. (It’s still in their rooms, but she thought ‘rest time’ sounded too babyish.)
So I have to try very hard to make reading–especially summer reading–engaging, relaxing, and inviting. I’ve mixed it up so far: some days I do the reading (modeling fluency is muy importante), some days we take turns, some days Maddy or Owen reads, and some days we all read silently.
It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we’re reading. Period.
For this Smart Summer Challenge day, I’m sharing one easy, sneaky way we threw in some reading comprehension strategy learning–some questioning and connecting–this week before we headed over to swim team.
We used two books that focused on the idea of ‘home’, since the theme this past week was ‘Me on the Map’–and everyone needs a starting point, a place to call home, right?
- Questioning and Connecting During Read-Alouds: I’ve waxed on about the importance of sneaking in reading comprehension strategies during read-alouds, especially with our little guys–the ones who aren’t decoding the text themselves–because with our modeling of these strategies, kiddos will see what strong readers do as they read and will make these behaviors habitual as they do start reading on their own.
Questioning, simply asking questions about a text as its read, is an incredibly powerful strategy. According to Harvey and Goudvis “questions propel us forward and take us deeper into reading” (2000, Strategies That Work), and it’s totally true. When kids ask questions, they want to read on to find answers, and ultimately, they can make better connections with the text.
Fly Away Home is a perfect text for questioning and connecting.
When we sat down to read, I grabbed Eve Bunting’s Fly Away Home, a really thought-provoking and moving book about a homeless boy and his father who live in an airport. Ronald Himler’s illustrations are fantastic, and I love this book, the story and the message so much, I used it to teach theme when I taught high school English. I thought it would be worthwhile for Maddy, Owen, and Cora to read because it’s really grounding.
Questioning started from the minute we sat down. I held the book, and as I looked at the cover, I said, The title of this book by Eve Bunting is ‘Fly Away Home’. I notice an airplane in the background, and it looks like these people are going on a trip. I wonder where ‘home’ is for them. I also wonder why they have such sad faces. What questions do you wonder about this book before I read?
Simple–and I did this kind of thinking out loud every few pages–enough to ask some questions, have the kids ask questions, but not totally interrupt the flow of the story.
We asked things like:
- I wonder how they feel about living in an airport?
- Do they feel scared every day?
- Where are his toys?
- Where is the boy’s mom and grandma?
- How does he feel when he sees other kids leaving the airport?
- Will they ever leave?
- I wonder if they ever watch tv or go to a movie?
And as we found answers to our questions, I’d make mention of it. And by the end, they were doing the same.
It was inevitable that we’d make connections as we read, because connecting is so natural for kids (who often love, love, love any chance to talk about themselves). Connections were along the lines of:
- If I lived there, I’d feel. . .
- Remember that homeless person we saw. . .
- I’d feel sad if I wore only blue like they do. . .
- It would scare me if I slept there. . .
As our next book, Owen vehemently requested we read Corduroy, by Don Freeman, and it turned out it was a great pairing for Fly Away Home–perfect for making text-to-text connections.
Because this was a familiar book to the kids, I didn’t do the pre-reading questioning like before. They know the gist of the story, so there was no need for it. Instead, as I read the first page, “Corduroy is a bear who once lived in the toy department. . . Day after day he waited with all the other animals and dolls for somebody to come along and take him home,” I saw a light go on in the kids’ heads.
Hey–this is similar to what we just read in ‘Fly Away Home’, I said. Corduroy is looking for a home, and Andrew and his dad are hoping to find a new home. Let’s read on to find other ways the books are alike and different. . .
And that’s it–connections are easy, really, and can be done on a number of levels:
- text to self: How does the text relate to you?
- text to text: How does the text relate to other books, plays, poems, etc. you’ve read?
- text to world: How does the text relate to events or ideas or situations in the world around you?
Playing with each type of connection helps deepen a reader’s understanding of a text, and seriously, kids. love. connecting. They’re learning and they don’t even realize it. And they love talking about themselves, so connecting is usually easy for them.
And that’s it–two simple but totally important reading comprehension strategies as part of my Read-Aloud Learning series (that I sneaked into our Me on the Map week of the Smart Summer Challenge.)
Please join Candace of Naturally Educational, MaryLea of Pink and Green Mama, and me for the Smart Summer Challenge, a six-week campaign where we all pledging to sneak in some sort of fun learning into our children’s summer days.
You can follow our calendar if you’d like, but you don’t have to. You can get really crazy, but you don’t have to do that either.
It can be simple learning–even 5 or 10 minutes a day. Anything and everything counts, and all we ask is that you link up here on Fridays and share what you’ve done (meaning: share one way you participated). Each Friday for the next six weeks, we’ll choose one participant to receive an awesome (and I mean totally worth your time awesome) prize.
Our goal is to show all parents that if we can do it, anyone can do it. And if we want our kids meet with success in school and to enjoy learning about the world around them, it’s our job to create a lifestyle of learning for our families. Join us!