To help our children become more active readers, it's a terrific idea to share our own process of thinking about our personal reading with them. One way to do this is to muse aloud about a book or perhaps a short story in a magazine. Shared thoughts like "I wonder why the hero in my new book seems so frightened of water?" or "Don't you think this just sounds like Grandpa?" or "I love this part of the book -- listen to this!" show our children we are readers and so are they.
Sometimes though, kids need a little guidance in thinking about what they've read themselves, especially if they're going to respond to it. Schools might ask that responses take the form of writing a book review, or a non-traditional alternative to a book report, and we can help kids tease out that response by encouraging them to ask and answer questions about their reading.
Here are some general questions you might like to use, or build on, with your school-aged readers:
• What was your favorite part of the story? What was the funniest/saddest/scariest/most memorable/most dramatic part of the story?
• Was there anything in the story that reminded you of your own life, of something or someone you know? Was there anything that made you think of something else you've read, or seen in a movie?
• How did the book make you feel? How did this part of the story make you feel?
• (Partway through a book, or before the next book in a series) What do you think might happen next? What might the hero/heroine's problem be? How might he/she resolve that problem?
• What do we know about this character so far? What can we tell about that character from what she does? From what others say about her? From what she says?
• Which book character would you want as your best friend? Which book character would you like to invite to dinner? Why?
• What if that character had been different, what effect would that have had on the story? If the villain had been stronger or the hero bigger, how would that have changed things?
• Does the main character change throughout the book? How?
One of the many wonderful things about fiction reading is that it isn't a passive entertainment. It encourages children to visualize settings, characters, and plot. It helps develop kids' imaginations and fuels their dreams. Reading not only contributes to vocabulary and knowledge acquisition, it also builds empathy, allowing kids to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. By helping our children think about what they read, and engage with the characters in a book, we're also helping them become more active readers and helping them connect to reading. Wonderful!
How do you get your kids talking about what books they're reading? Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.