“GET YOUT BOOK OUT AND READ!”
“CLOSE YOUR BOOK NOW AND PUT IT AWAY”
Oh no! If these are words you say, then let’s think about upturning the funnel and finding a more positive and productive way of using the words you speak to encourage the development of reading skills. Let’s think about Speaking for Reading, in other words speaking to promote, encourage, enthuse, inspire and foster a love of reading!
Choosing a book
This is a skill in itself. Too many young readers are given very little guidance on how to choose a book, they pick up one and are probably told to “Hurry up”. The book is too difficult for them to read, or not of interest and they lose any enthusiasm they might have had to get started. They need some wrap around conversation with the teacher to get this first stage off to an enthusiastic and fertile start.
In order to “Speak for Reading” the teacher needs to gently explain how the book corner or library is set out and to suggest an area the child might like to try. Books should be graded according to their level of readability, non fiction books according to their subject so encouraging children to make a successful choice and to know which area to return to if that child wants a follow up read. The teacher becomes a salesman selling reading as enjoyable, comfortable, fascinating and worth giving it a try!
Suggesting titles in Speaking for Reading.
I know a lady who sells children’s books for a living. She takes a van load of books to schools, sets out the books with their fronts facing forwards so her audience might be tempted by the pictures on the front (oh why do we display so many books with spines forward when the publishers spend so much thought and time and money in designing front covers) and gathers the children around her to show her own enthusiasm for reading. What a role model! Then she selects one book at a time and speaks for reading. She tells the children just enough about the story to whet their appetite and then she stops abruptly on a cliff hanger. The children are so eager to know what happens next, that they are desperate to try that book, but she closes it, leaves it displayed face forward and goes on to speak about the next book she has selected. Teachers can do this. Teachers can even ask the children to name who they think in the class would love that story. In this way, the children could choose who has the first read of it. And children themselves are so good at recommending books to their friends, especially if this is done in a structured setting. In a book ” show and tell” session, the reader can be involved in speaking for reading by telling about a recently read book and saying “And I think that Jay would love this book!” Jay would be so pleased to be chosen and so would already be at the starting line to set off on that book’s adventure.
Be positive in your Speaking for Reading
Some children really struggle to learn to read. Some read, but are so intent on decoding the letters and letter strings that they don’t “hear” the story and so they find comprehension difficult and comprehension exercises too great a challenge. Some children just learn to read with no difficulty. But whatever their level of skill, they need positive comments from the teacher to help them progress to the next level. They need words of gentle encouragement when they start to struggle so, for all of them, be aware of tempering any speaking for reading with lots of praise and enthusiasm. Don’t forget this website is called show me WOW and let your children think that you are feeling the WOW factor when they read.
But sometimes stop Speaking for Reading and be silent!
Have silent reading lessons. This not only offers readers a chance to get lost in the pages, but also encourages them to develop speed reading. Children who only read aloud can become slow readers in adulthood. They hear the words they read in their heads, so read at a speaking pace. This is fine for poetry reading, but too slow for other types of reading.
Use your eyes and expression to settle unsettled silent readers and, if possible, avoid using your voice. Don’t use this silent reading time as a time to chat to other teachers. Be a role model and silent read whilst the children do the same. Being a role model is not you being lazy! Being a role model to readers definitely pays dividends, so speak for reading, but know when to be silent too!
And at the end of a silent reading session gently break the silence with
“Finish the sentence or paragraph you are reading and then softly close the pages of your book”
Sounds good doesn’t it? And if children have been doing quality reading, they’ll do all this quite calmly, will patiently wait for others to finish and also they’ll usually look as if they have just woken up. They often feel like having a stretch. Well they may have been up to all sorts of strenuous activities whilst lost in their pages!