The Reading Experience: Beyond the Last Page

Enhancing the Reading Experience

I have always wanted my children to love reading as much as I did when I was a child. I still love to read now and I wish I had the time to read more. Currently, my reading list consists of lots of children’s books and I love reading them just as much.

I have to make a confession though. During the summer holidays, we took a long break from reading and learning. I got very lazy. We were getting up late and the kids were going to bed very late too. By the end of the summer, I felt guilty and I was ashamed that I had probably contributed to my kids unlearning a lot that they had learnt while they were at school.

I decided to make a change so instead of allowing the kids to watch Netflix all day long, we would fill the days doing other things. My eldest daughter is in year 6 now, so it’s a crucial year for her, I want to support her in doing the best she can do. The first thing we had to sort out was the reading. I was adamant that they would read at least half an hour every day if not more.

The kids have been back to school for a while now so TV time, and all other  screen time, has been drastically reduced. I felt I was doing something right when I woke up Saturday morning, walked into the living room, to find both my lovely children sitting and reading. No TV. No tablets. No mobile phones. I still thought they were in bed when I couldn’t hear anything… I mean, they weren’t even fighting!!!

Now that the kids understand that they have to read every day, they have started to read for pleasure. It’s no longer a chore and I hope it stays that way.

So, reading is in place and teachers always tell us to make sure we ask our children a few questions about the book to make sure they have understood what they have read, but it that enough?

I didn’t think so and I thought, ‘I have to find a way to get the kids to gain a deeper understanding of the books they are reading by doing a small activity after they have read the book’. But why? you may ask!! I’ll tell you why, then, I’ll tell you how!

Why should we do extra activities after our child has finished reading a book?

  1. As we have already established, reading alone does not mean that our children have understood the books. How many times have you read a paragraph and had to re-read it because you just weren’t concentrating? If your child knows that you won’t be checking to see if they have understood the book, they won’t really bother to try to understand it.
  2. I have already written quite extensively about critical thinking and its importance. To reiterate, questioning and use of activity tailored around the book your child has read can help your child to gain a better understanding and develop their higher order thinking skills.
  3. Higher order thinking also includes creativity and using imagination. Further activities after reading a book could tap into your child’s creative side. Later on, we will have a look at how these tasks can do just that.
  4. If the activities are fun and it means that your child is able to have some quality time with you while doing the activities, the chances are your child will want to read more, increasing their enjoyment of reading.
  5. We all know that reading a variety of different texts can help to improve vocabulary and language skills. An activity after reading gives your child an opportunity to put that into practice while the story and any new vocabulary are still fresh in their mind.
  6. It is very important to be able to see things from different perspectives. All stories have a number of characters and they all have their own perspectives on events that would have happened throughout the stories. Not all perspectives are explored in the stories as it’s just not possible. Various activities can get your child to look at the story from the perspective of different characters.
  7. With everyone being so busy these days and engrossed in their own lives, there leaves little room for empathy or the opportunity to develop empathy. Use stories and other books to get your child to think about how someone else might feel when they are in a particular situation. This life skill will be important when they grow up and have to deal with real-life situations.
  8. There is no doubt that reading and exploring books increases your children’s confidence and chances of them wanting to continue reading.
  9. Isn’t it nice to have that little bit of quality time with them? Take the time to discuss the book, have fun doing the activities together and your child will cherish those moments as much as you do.
  10. Lastly, your child will be so proud to show you the work they have done and may even want to take it into school! Wouldn’t that get you brownie points with the teacher! 😉

Now that we have discussed the ‘why’, we will move on to ’how’!

How can I get hold of resources to help my child gain a better understanding of the books they read?

I would like to introduce you to three resources which I think are brilliant and have use them with my own children, so I know they are great!

The Book Report – Poster Paper – This is a double sided A2 poster. It folds in the middle to form an A3 poster. It is absolutely packed with tasks!! Your child can create their own library card, write down all the basic information – which means they will have to find out who the author is, who the illustrator is as well as, who it was published by, the year and in which country.

This takes some detective work! They will also need to do some research on the author and find out about other books the author has written. Your child also gets an opportunity to be creative and design a new cover from the book! That’s just the first page!

Some of the other tasks include exploring the different characters, summarising the book and designing their own bookmark! There is so much more on this poster paper to enable your child to explore new vocabulary, use the critical thinking skills to review and rate the book and think about a sequel… I could go on and on about this poster paper.

I have used this particular resource a few times with both my children and they loved it as the tasks are so varied. Why not give it a go!?

Storybook Stars – This is a wonderful, downloadable book that I have just started using with my youngest. It is targeted at key stage 2 (8-10 year). It contains an endless number of activities for your child to get their teeth into.

This book was written for teachers to use in the classroom as a means of providing extension work for the pupils but there is nothing to say that we, as parents cannot use them at home.

It uses a concept called ‘content levels’. This simply means that the activities have been categorised so you can decide where you would like your child to start.  There are three levels that work their way up Bloom’s Taxonomy. You can find out more about Blooms Taxonomy here 

Each activity will tell you what the aim or target of that activity is. That could be to explore the importance of story sequencing by re-arranging events or to categorise characters and select a suitable representative for each category. Each activity has a different aim and if you feel you need to repeat an activity with another book, you can just print another page off.

I have used this book by reading a book with my daughter and then deciding together which activity will best suit the book. She has written birthday cards to a character in a book, she has even written an email to a character explaining why she would like to be their friend.

I really feel that she gets a greater understanding of the story and enables me to see if she has really learnt anything from reading the book. I would definitely recommend this book, it’s a great way to get stretch and challenge your child’s ability

Five Favourite Fairy Tales – A Language Adventure Based on Well Known Fairy Tales – If you don’t want to read a book and then have to find a suitable activity, why not have a go at this downloadable book? “Five Favourite Fairy Tales” is designed to give young children a fresh outlook on well-known fairy tales.

All stories  will probably be familiar to the children – in fact this series of activities relies on a certain amount of familiarity, as the intention is to have the children thinking and functioning “outside” the stories. This is done through the use of structured activities.

Why not give one of these a go and let us know what you think? You can also share pictures of your child’s work on Instagram, just remember to tag us @educatorsden!

 

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