Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 11
This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.
When All Else Fails, Drop Everything and Just Read
Well, it sure has been an interesting past few weeks! All of a sudden, our children are homebound and learning how to engage in remote learning, while also spending an incredible amount of time together as a family AND trying to acclimate to all sorts of rather large changes. I’m tired just thinking about it. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed or inundated with the many resources out there to try and keep your children busy while also learning, and perhaps also provide parents with a bit of a reprieve? Personally, I have found it difficult to engage my 5 and 7-year-old boys in any type of “sit down and learn” type of activity, but I am so grateful that what always piques their interest is listening to me read a special chapter book aloud to them. When all else fails, drop everything and just read.
Perhaps you are feeling the same way? Hopefully you are starting to get the hang of remote learning, and also have your “go-to” websites, or resources for fun, engaging, and interesting learning activities. Perhaps you have gotten into a groove with your family and a new daily schedule or routine. If this is you, you are doing great! If this is not you, you are doing great! We are in this together and when all else fails, stop and read a book. You can read your children your favorite books or their favorite books or venture into new territory by starting a virtual book club. You can set up FaceTime calls or Zoom chats with friends to share what books you are reading, the books on your “to read” list, book recommendations, or to read aloud with one another—the possibilities for virtual book clubs and engaging in discussions about books, while still social distancing, are endless!
Following are a few of my favorite chapter books for kids so that if you find yourself in a rut, or simply just need a book recommendation to enjoy with your children, you have a quick list to reference. As you know, The Children’s Book Review is FULL of incredible book recommendations. I listed a few here and some ideas on how to engage in the books a bit more fully, based on a child’s literacy skills. Please note that I did not include an age range for these books as I have found that even the youngest of children can fall in love with and immerse themselves in books that are typically for older children. And older children can truly enjoy and engage deeply with books that are typically for younger children. We hope you are safe at home, staying healthy and curling up with a ton of fantastic books because when you can’t leave home, thank goodness books can take you anywhere.
Written by Roald Dahl
I am a huge fan of all of Roald Dahl’s books and especially love Matilda. I love that she is a voracious reader and how she constantly outsmarts her parents. This book is a great one to really dive deep into discussions about character, character traits, and character relationships. While reading this book, ask your children to begin collecting evidence to help prove the best possible theme of the book. Some guiding questions to help readers be able to infer the strongest theme are: What does the main character learn? How does the main character change throughout the book? What is the problem? How is the problem solved? What does the reader learn? Once you have finished the book, watch the movie! Have your children think about and discuss the similarities and differences between the book and the movie.
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Written by E.B. White
Illustrated by Garth Williams
I recently finished reading this book with my boys and we all loved it. Although a bit of a tearjerker, it is a gorgeous story about friendship. There are many powerful quotes in the book and these are excellent ways to get your kids writing and journaling more. There is a movie version as well, so plan another movie night when you are done reading this book! Being able to compare and contrast book and movie versions is both fun and interesting. I also love this book because it can lead to some very interesting nonfiction research questions. After reading this book, my boys wanted to learn more about animals, especially cool facts about barn spiders.
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Written by Sharon Creech
This amazing book has many interesting characters and will surely evoke lots of feelings. The main character, Sal, takes readers on an incredible journey when she embarks on a road trip from Ohio to Idaho with her hilarious grandparents. This book gives readers lots of opportunities to analyze all the major components of fiction (character, character relationships, setting, plot and theme). It is a bit of a mystery too, so it is excellent for making thoughtful predictions based on evidence. Warning, this book is a bit of a tearjerker as well, but I think you’ll find that it is worth it. It truly is a beautiful story about overcoming tragedy and facing the truth with help from those who love you. The “secret” messages the characters find in this story are excellent ones to journal about as well.
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Written by Kate DiCamillo
There are actually a few similarities between Walk two Moons and this book—both are powerful books about love, loss, friendship and perseverance. An excellent way to dive a bit deeper into this book would be to analyze how Opal, the main character, and her father the preacher, change throughout the course of the book. There are various potential themes as well, so encourage your children to collect evidence as they read to prove what they believe is the best theme of the book. Good news, there is a movie version of this book, too!
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Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this Growing Readers Column link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. 4 Family Read-Alouds: When All Else Fails, Just Read! was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.