Teaching Reading Skills and Other Subjects with Books
October 29, 2008 in Young Adult Novels
Books are cool. Children’s and teens’ books are especially cool. Is it the covers? Yes! The illustrations? Yes! The subject matter? Yes! But what makes them especially, especially cool is that you can use them in your classroom or with your child at home (if you homeschool or you don’t) to work on reading, writing, speaking, math, science, history, and spelling skills. Books draw kids in, and then when you got them, you can slip some learning in–they might not even notice.
Use books! That’s what this blog is all about. I remember when I taught writing to students in grades K-5 at Fairmount Elementary School in the Francis Howell School District. Part of my curriculum was to teach about voice–finding your voice, developing a voice, writing with voice, and recognizing good voice. Well, how could I teach voice when I can’t even explain exactly what it is. (For you writers out there, editors and agents can’t explain it either. They just say–”I’m looking for that unique voice, although I don’t know what that is.”) So, I turned to books to help me teach about voice. I found two books about Martin Luther King, Jr.–one was by his sister and one was more of a factual book about him. Immediately when I read these two books to my students, they understood voice–the sister book had a lot of it, the other one didn’t. Then we could discuss why his sister might be able to write with more voice and so on. I used books to teach a complicated lesson, and it worked.
The ideas for teaching skills with books I put on this site are not the only ideas that can go with these books. There are probably hundreds of ideas for each book. Not to mention, that most books can be used to teach reading skills like author’s purpose, parts of a book, parts of a story, cause and effect, problem and solutions, and character’s feelings. I tend to focus on fiction books, but of course, there are tons of great nonfiction books for kids available that teach all sorts of wonderful things!
If you are a parent who homeschools or just loves reading and helping your child, then you can use books, too. You may have to participate in the activity with your child, but what’s more fun than going back to your childhood through art, writing, and experimentation? If your child is having trouble with sequencing story events, then pick his favorite book on a Saturday afternoon and together create a story map. Your child will forget you are having a “tutoring” session when the markers come out, and you say, “Let’s draw the first important event in your favorite book.”
Use books! Use them! It’s one of the only things in this world that loves to be used.
Thanks for reading!
photo by woolywonderworks www.flickr.com