Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuba-Playing Tiger

By around the third grade, children should be reading well enough to understand what is going on in a story, rather than just being able to sound out the words and sentences. They should be reading to learn instead of learning to read.  Even at a young age, children can begin to develop these narrative skills.  Try choosing a picture book with a simple plot and asking both “what” and “why” questions about the story. Use “why” questions to involve the child in the story and to discuss more abstract concepts like feelings.

An example:
Yesterday I  read an old favorite, Tiger Can’t Sleep, to a storytime group on the lawn at School House Park. I asked the children if they thought the boy in the story was upset with the ball-bouncing, tuba-playing, cart-wheeling tiger in his closet for keeping him up at night. A boy near the front replied, “No, I have a tiger in my closet and we get along fine!”

We all giggled a bit, but his response is a good example of a very effective tool for reading comprehension.  He was relating the story to his own life by involving his imagination, ultimately enabling him to better understand what was going on. I told him that I also like imaginary tigers.  Much better than real ones, in fact. Especially if one happens to be in my closet playing the tuba and preventing me from getting any shut-eye.

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