Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Talking with Books

Talking and reading are both important early literacy skills.  A great way to highlight these skills is to talk about books during story time.  While it sounds difficult, it is really quite easy with practice.  Here's how I do it:

I start off by propping my books up on a counter at the front of our story time area.  As the kids are coming into the room, we discuss what the theme of the week will be.  Many covers give good clues to the words, even for kids who can't read yet.  A great example is Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.  I like to ask the kids what they see.  Most actually know the lemon shape, which I would have thought would have been hard for them.  Then we talk about the colors on the cover.  What color is the lemon?  What colors are lemons supposed to be?  This is usually when they have the "Aha!" moment and realize that this is silly (gotta love 2 year old humor).  I also point out that they have discovered the title of the story.  I read and point to the words as I say "Lemons are not red".

Then we start the story.  After I say "Lemons are not red", I ask "What color are lemons?"  Seeger gives the kids hints by making the pages the correct color.  For example, the lemon pages are yellow, but the lemon-shaped die cut shows through to a red page.  Then we turn the page to carrots.  I ask, "Are carrots purple?"  While you will normally get at least one kid in the group who gets the color right, but I did have a girl today who insisted that she has had purple carrots.  Since we weren't in a hurry, we then let her tell her story about eating purple carrots.  

Another good example to use is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.  In addition to using colors and animals that are familiar to most young children, many children can already recite the entire story.  This doesn't mean that they don't want to hear it again-they do.  They also want to help tell the story.

I start off by showing the cover and asking what animal is on the front.  It's a bear!  What color is the bear?  He's brown.  Then I say something like, "Our story today is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"  When playing with this book, it helps if you know the story.  If you don't, I recommend typing it out and taping it to the back cover so you can easily see it and know when to flip the pages.  While you can read it the traditional way, I like to have the kids help tell the story.  To do this, they need to see the pictures to name the animals and colors.  I start off by reading, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?  I see a..."  Then I flip the page and most of the kids will shout out "red bird".  If they don't, I will ask what they see or what color is the bird?  After you get through an animal or two, the kids will know that it is okay to talk (after all, most of the time we encourage them to sit and listen) and will help you tell the story.  You will run into problems when you get to the goldfish.  Most of the kids will call it orange and that is correct.  You can either change the words to reflect that or say something like, "Wow, you are right.  Today, though, we are going to call it gold, which is a shade of orange."  At the end of the story, there is a picture of all of the animals.  The kids like to say all of the animals again with you.

Final Things to Remember
While I don't do this type of thing all the time, it is a good trick to have because it shows parents how to talk about a story.  We are the examples that they will follow because we are the experts.  Some people think that you have to stick to the words of the story and read it straight through, but sometimes it is fun to stop and talk about the pictures.  If you need some ideas of books to use, I like to start with color books because colors tend to be one of the easiest examples of seeing something (like the color) and having the words to match. You can see that both of the books above are about colors. Also, if you are going to talk about a book, the kids will want to talk about it too.  This takes time.  Build in some extra time in your story time so you aren't rushing through.

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