When teaching children to comprehend what they are reading, one of the simplest and most effective strategies is to encourage them to make connections. Connections to other books they have read (Wow! The Humming Room reminds me a lot of Secret Garden), connections to themselves (see below) and connections to the world (Gosh! I think the Lorax is reminding us about the importance of recycling.)
As effective adult readers, we make these connections in our minds all the time without even realizing we are doing it. Strong teachers will model these thoughts with their students during read alouds encouraging children to bring these strategies into their own reading.
Last night, I was reading the book, Silly Billy to Katherine before bed. I had picked it up off the shelf at the library because it mentions ‘worrying’ and Caroline is the greatest worrier of all time. Of course, Katherine was the one who was drawn to book but doesn’t that kind of thing always happen?
In the story, Billy gets a set of worry dolls from his Grandma. As I was reading, Katherine shouted out, “I have a connection!!! Billy’s grandma gave him his worry dolls and our grandma gave us worry dolls!!!” She was so excited, she literally jumped out of bed and ran to tell Caroline about the connection she had made.
There is no doubt in my mind that Katherine’s wonderful kindergarten teacher has been making all sorts of connections in the classroom.
As Katherine calmed down, she continued to talk about all the similarities between her and Billy as well as the differences. She even asked me to find books by the same author and to find more books about worry dolls. Connections, connections, connections.
How amazing to know what a strong little reader we are growing here…