Saturday, May 30, 2009

Entering the story world.

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful).
Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Today I'll be sharing with you about how to entertain your child who will be turning two years old. Now is the right time to introduce stories to her. It's quite an easy task only that you need a lot of patience. Before you took her to the wonderful world of stories, you need to remember a few important things. Let's see...

There are two important things to remember about reading stories.
  1. the experience should be enjoyable for your child, and
  2. the child needs help with her story memory.
To ensure enjoyment, don't interrupt stories as you read them. Don't try to explain everything and define words as you go. Children love the flow of it - the modulated storyteller voice, even if they don't understand most of the words. If you're asked to read a favourite story over and over, take advantage of this. Read a story through in a normal way. Then go back and pick out a character or place or event that's important to the story. Turn back to the page where the important character first appears and look at the picture. Talk about what this character looks like, what he's wearing. If it's an animal, tell your child what it is. Talk about where the character is - what place is it? Where did he come from? Why did he go to this place? Where is he going next?

After spending a few minutes on this, read the story again (if it's short) in the usual way. Next time, focus on something else, an event, like why all the puppies fell out of the boat. What made that happen? So on and on.

See, it's not difficult at all to start reading story to your child. You just need 10 to 20 minutes for this. Insya-Allah your child will be looking forward for more reading and stories soon.


Ref: Growing a Reader from Birth, McGuinsess, D. (2004). London: W. W. Norton & Company.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Read Aloud Strategies

Getting started

  • Make read aloud time a happy time! Gather the students in front of you on a rug or in a corner of the classroom. If necessary, establish rules for appropriate behavior during read aloud time: keep hands to oneself, wait for the teacher to call on you, etc. Wait for all the students to get quiet and calm--it's no fun trying to talk over many voices.

  • Make sure that you are reading from a variety of genres: fiction and non-fiction, chapter books, picture books, series (i.e. Henry and Mudge, Arthur)

  • Preview the book before you share it with your students. Are there any unfamiliar concepts that will need a quick review before reading? Give the students a very brief introduction to the story.

  • Share author and illustrator information with the students. If possible, link to other books you have read by those same people.

During the reading

  • Remember to read with expression--really ham it up! The kids will love it. Change your voice for different characters, and vary the speed as well: fast for exciting parts, slow for scary or quiet parts.

  • Save the "teaching" for later. Don't interrupt the story to ask lots of questions ("What color is her dress?" "How did they get to grandma's house?"). Focus on the flow of the story. Your students need to hear fluent, phrased, expressive reading. This will break down if you stop too many times. Too many interruptions can also lead to a breakdown in meaning for some students.

  • Don't forget to share the pictures! Establish a routine for this to cut down on "I can't see!"

After the reading

  • Now it's time to get into the story! Briefly check on student comprehension, remembering to focus on higher-order questioning. (Not "Did Little Red Riding Hood listen to her mother?" but "Do you think Little Red Riding Hood will listen to her mother next time? Why or why not?").

  • Make links to other stories your students have read. Have they read other stories with similar themes or situations? How was this story the same or different? How does this story compare to others by the same author?

  • Show the students how to return to the text. Do you need to go back to the book to answer a question? Model for the students how this is done. This will help them during their independent reading.

  • Don't put the book away! Leave it out for students to explore on their own, and don't be shy about reading it again with the whole class. Young children love to hear their favorite stories repeated, and they benefit from hearing the same book many times.

Read Aloud Resources

  • The Read Aloud Handbook: 4th edition, Jim Trelease (Penguin, 1995)

  • Best Books for Children: Preschool Through Grade 6, 6th edition, John Thomas Gillespie, editor (R.R. Bowker, 1998)

  • Children's Books from Other Countries, Carl Tomlinson, editor (Scarecrow Press, 1998)

  • Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children, Irene C. Fountas & Gay Su Pinnell (Heinemann, 1996) v



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