Choosing and Using Books

Choosing Books
1. Illustrations.
These should be clear, attractive and appealing to young children. The
illustrations should support the story line and help children to comprehend it.
2. Text
Ideally, this may have a repetitive component, without too much difficult
vocabulary. The story line should be at the right level for the children, although
they do not have to be able to understand every word. The story may contain
unknown vocabulary so you may have to introduce this prior to reading the
story. However, too much new vocabulary will dampen the children’s interest
and engagement as they will not be able to remember to many new concepts.
However, if you really like the story and/or the illustrations, you could choose
this book but be prepared to rewrite/simplify the text. emember to re read
stories to build on new vocabulary and concepts. Have the books you have
read displayed.
3. Content
The story should be appealing to the children. !oung children often en"oy
stories about animals, or other children, or situations with which they are
familiar. It is also a good idea to try to find stories which you think will have an
emotional appeal to the children, usually with a character with whom they can
identify, or with whom they can empathise. The #ower of eading book packs
have been carefully selected, now it is up to you, your teacher and students.
$egin with titles that appeal. !ou know your own children build on this
knowledge when selecting your first titles. %et the children select the story.
& good story often has a beginning, middle and an end. The best stories contain
some sort of difficulty which is resolved in some way. 'ften, in children’s
literature, the difficulty is resolved through a happy ending.
Power of Reading
Introducing Books
There are many ways of introducing a good story book to young
Some suggestions: !ote that these are only S"#$ ideas % ex&eriment and
ha'e fun(
)re reading
%ook at the cover (picture clues) * #ose a +uestion, I wonder what this story is
about- .ho are the main characters- &sk the students to predict (an important
reading skill). #re reading discussion can be an ideal opportunity to teach/ introduce
new vocabulary. Try to get students to tell you all they know about the topic. !ou do
/'T need to pre0teach every new word * "ust those which are crucial to
comprehending the story. There will be other new words in the book which the
children may be able to work out for themselves using context and / or the
discussion after the reading. #re reading discussion is to activate schema. Tie the
topic to what the children know. 1aking sense is a continuous process. It is also
recursive building on what has gone before.
%ook at the pictures through out the book but do not show the picture that has the
resolution to the problem. &sk * .hat do you think is happening in this picture-
#&234 to allow students time to offer a few ideas. (&t first children may not respond,
however, with time and encouragement to take a risks and speak up children will
share their ideas enthusiastically using 5
or 6
language) !* + remember to remind
teachers to allow student think time and not to ask +uestions that have the answer7
This is a really important tool and often difficult for teachers to grasp. Teachers hate
silence and will give the answer or ask another leading +uestion to prompt the
students before allowing think time. 8hildren cannot develop thinking skills with out
time to think, respond and discuss.
%et’s read the story and find out 0 Teacher reads the story keeping the pace steady. *
not stopping to recite/ chant new vocabulary or chanting phrases 4n"oy the story.
emember that this is reading T" children.
Some suggestions for after the reading:
3hort class discussion 0 some possible +uestions
* .ell what happened at the end of the story-
0How was the problem solved -
.hat happened to 999999 - (good character/ bad character)
.hat would you have done if you were 99999999-
$ncouraging Critical Thinking in ,es&onse to Story *ooks
&s teachers and students become more confident in responding and discussing
stories read, encourage teachers to include open ended +uestions that promote
higher level thinking skills.
3ome possible open ended +uestions may include,
• .hy do you think the character/s made that choice of ::-
• How might the story be different if::.-
• .hat clues do the author/ illustrator give to show that ::-
• .hat might (name the character) be thinking when :.-
• .hat do you think the author wants readers to remember most in this story-
-ollow+u& acti'ities. Some ideas( There are many more:
• ;rama/'ral work. 8ould the story be acted out- .hat would be the point of
acting out the story- .hat oral language would the children need-
• eading. 3ome schools have multiple copies of the same book. 8an you think
of ways of using these books-
• .riting. .hat writing activities could follow from the book- 8ould the children
make their own books- &re you confident in encouraging teachers to use the
<writing process=.
• >rammar. .hat are the main grammatical structures in the book- &re there
any repeated phrases/sentences- How could these be practised in other
3ometimes books which are written for children for whom 4nglish is a first language
will not be culturally appropriate for second language learners, or sometimes they
will include concepts which are unfamiliar. ?or example, books written for children in
4ngland, /ew @ealand, &ustralia will often make reference to the animals unknown
to the children, i.e. kiwi, koala. This does not necessarily mean you should not use
them, but you do need to think about how much pre0teaching you would have to do.
Conditions for .earning
3mith (5ABC), Holdaway ( 5ABA) and 8ambourne ( 5ACC) have described the conditions
under which children learn to use oral language and develop emergent literacy
behaviours. They argue that these need to be duplicated in the classroom. 8ambourne
says that for a child to learn to read effectively there must be immersion, expectations,
responsibility, approximation, use and response.
8hildren need a classroom environment that is alive with books. eading to students
should happen almost every day.
To become aware of different texts children need to see demonstrations of people reading
different texts. Through reading to children teachers can model how to find information,
recognise certain literacy or grammatical features in a text, how to identify beginning and
ending sounds, ends of words, rhyming words, illustrative techni+ues used to convey
meaning, diagrams to convey meaning, etc. ;emonstrations need to be repeated in
different ways and in different contexts as students will not grasp all the information when
if is first presented and different students learning in different ways.
%iteracy development re+uires interaction with the text, active participation by the listener
to a story. ?or this ownership to take place listeners need to see themselves as potential
readers, they need to see that reading is desirable for them and they need to know that
attempting to interact with the story will not cause them humiliation. They will be
confident, engage and move forward and will not be put off by a false start or two.
$x&ectations and )raise
#ositive expectations of students and praise for the efforts they make are key factors
leading to literacy success.
3tudents are given increasing responsibility for selecting the stories they would like to
listen to or re read.
0&&roximations and ,isks
%earning involves taking risks and making mistakes. The ability to make a good guess is
essential to learning. In story sessions listeners will be willing to take risks based on what
they hear and see 0 pictures, illustrations, title, print cues. $y accepting children
approximations through asking +uestions which help them to get meaning from the story,
the teacher can facilitate students in learning to use good strategies, so that they will gain
the skill and confidence to understand a story in a meaningful way.
)ractice and 1se
4vidence shows that the more exposure to books students have the more they are likely
to become confident readers and writers.
&ll parents expect their children to talk. They accept with enthusiasm each child’s
attempts to communicate. Their approach provides a good model for teachers when
students respond to a story. &ffirm, praise and accept the child’s ideas. Teachers may
need mentor support to develop this skill. 'ne option could be giving teachers suitable
phrases. < That’s a good idea. It could be. &ny other suggestions or ideas-= (They may
use %5 at first)