Make Reading Personal
You give a child text to read. They read it. Then you want to assess whether they understood it. Getting them to answer the questions about the text, though, is like trying to pull their little wiggly teeth that take forever to fall out. This is why it is a must that you make reading personal to them.
They’re not interested, apathetic, just plain bored with what they read. So what is the key to getting them more involved and engaged with what they’re reading so that they understand and retain more?
The short answer is you’ve got to make reading personal.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1.) Select texts/books that are of interest to the child. For example, if your kid is into getting letters in the mail, check out a book or two from the library on that topic. Another example: if your child has recently had a particular experience, such as having a baby brother appear on the family scene, get a book about that.
2.) Talk about the book before you or your child read(s) it. To make reading personal, ask your child if they know anyone similar to the main character. Relate how your child’s experience or interests might play a role in the book. Make predictions about what the characters will go through or what they are like. Think about if you know any similar people and think about the character traits of both character and the person that you know. Then, at the end of the book, go back over those predictions to see if they were right.
More Ways to Make Reading Personal
3.) Build background. If your child is interested in being a doctor when she grows up, but she doesn’t know about a particular type of medicine, say, pediatrics, have her watch a short YouTube video appropriate for children about doctors who work with kids. Having visuals and audio to build her background knowledge will help her understand the book she reads about it later. She’s triangulating data points if you will, and cross-referencing knowledge from one source with another, building a store of knowledge about a particular topic.
4.) Make reading personal by Making an after-reading project that relates to the child’s life and the topic of the book. Back to the letter-writing example, have your child write a letter to a friend or family member, or make a behind-the-scenes visit to the local post office to see how mail is sorted and delivered. Make as many connections to their reading as possible so that they will have a lasting impression of their reading experience.
Better Than Book Reports by Christine Boardman-Moen gives you lots of projects to do or gives you ideas to create your own project!
Help your child to see beyond the pictures in the book, past the fun rhymes. Help them to dig into the content, content that they are interested in that will make them want to learn more. Use the suggested ways to make reading personal and your child will respond more enthusiastically! And whenever you can, throw in a reading activity that’s fun. It will help with reading skills and will be a fun family/bonding time.
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