Thursday, August 18, 2011

Five Top Tips to Make Reading Rock!

With the plethora of gadgets and technology at their fingertips, getting kids to open a book seems a daunting task for many parents. However, as any parent knows, when kids are interested in something, it’s hard to tear them away from it! You can turn your kids into avid readers by making reading exciting and interactive. Creative and interesting approaches to reading will transform this activity into something novel and stimulating. These tips will also enhance your child’s reading experience, encouraging them to think more deeply about the characters and themes in books, while having a whole lot of fun! My guest post today comes from Susan Black, who is a freelance writer and mother of two pre-teens.

As pleasurable as reading is there are many ways to engage with a book other than simply reading it. Active reading strategies help young readers formulate their own ideas about characters, events and themes in literature. Outlined below are 5 active reading strategies to try with younger readers.

Strategy One: The Treasure Box

Whilst reading a book ask the young reader to choose a character and fill a shoe box with small items that would be important their chosen character. For example, if you were reading the Twilight series and the reader chose Bella they might fill the box with an old keepsake from her mother, a ring or flower given to her by Edward and a photo of her and her father. The idea is that the reader updates the treasure box as the story progresses. It’s almost like physically emptying the pockets of a character to find out what is important to them personally. This gives readers a deeper understanding of the characters at hand and enables them to engage with characters at a deeper emotional level.

Strategy Two: Reader Turned Reporter

Reading is a great tool for writing and a great activity is to get young readers to act as newspaper reporters throughout the story. This could range from getting them to read out a TV style news item to writing a column for the local newspaper based on events from the book. Most books involve dramatic events that would easily be covered by local, and sometimes even national, news channels and encouraging them to report on events from the book might help them look at the book from a new perspective. For example was the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood really the villain? The media’s penchant for twisting facts can make for an interesting perspective on new books.

Strategy Three: Hot-seating

Have young readers step into the shoes of a character and get them to respond to a series of questions. As all of the answers about a character are not always given in the book the reader will have to think imaginatively about their responses and make up believable answers. This works particularly well for stories involving passionate crimes as it can be set up in a court of law situation with the reader having to justify the actions of the character. If this is a little bit advanced for a child the adult may instead step into the shoes of the character and allow the young reader to question them. Formulating questions for a character is a higher level thinking skill as the reader is probing the material and creating a personal line of enquiry.

Strategy Four: Thematic Collages

Young readers who respond well to art projects will enjoy creating collages around the major themes in a book. Looking at the finished collage anybody should be able to tell you what a particular book is about. For example, in the case of Romeo and Juliet there may be images concerned with death, love and violence. This would give anybody coming to the play for the first time an idea of what to expect if they read it, or indeed, watched it. This works well for young readers as it gives them a visual representation of all the major aspects of the text. With complicated texts this can help to break down more sophisticated concepts into simpler terms.

Strategy Five: Create Your Own Ending

When you reach the last chapter of the book it’s always a good idea to stop and digest everything that’s happened. An even better thing to do is to make predictions about how the book could end and to write an alternative ending. The fun of this activity is that it can be easily made as serious or as fun as you want it to be. For fun you might try and get a young reader to write the most unlikely ending to the story. If you’re wanting the reader to take the text more seriously however you might get them to make sensitive predictions about how the book will end and write their own version. Not only is this enhancing their ability to analyse books it is giving them the opportunity to improve their creative writing skills. At the end of it they will have produced a piece of work they are proud of and will probably enjoy reading the end of the book even more to look at the similarities and differences between their written ending and that of the author.

Susan’s other interests lie in photography and amateur interior design. She has written this article on reading with kids on behalf of her favourite recliner sectionals specialists.


Unknown said...

I adore these ideas! I'll have to keep most on the backburner until Max grows up a little, but you can bet we'll have character shoeboxes in his room before long!

Thanks so much for linking this up to the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

Fiona Ingram said...

Some of the ideas can be used with younger children, like the treasure box, which is one of my favourites! I also love the collage idea which taps into the artistic side of kids.

Renee C. said...

I love all of these ideas especially the "Hot-Seating". I should try that with my kids and report back on our website. The alternate ending strategy is something my daughter's french teacher uses. Another great idea! Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop Fiona! :D

Fiona Ingram said...

These are just a few of the many unique ways of making reading fun for kids.