Well, it is that time of year again. My kids are off to school, and I am excited to begin writing a brand new book. I will be creating the book through this blog, and you will have free access to all of it’s content here. This book/blog series is called Seven Habits of Highly Effective Readers and will give you information on what you can do to create an avid reader.
Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. She leaned back in the buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendor above. Even when they had passed out and were driving down the long slope to Newbridge she never moved or spoke. Still with rapt face she gazed afar into the sunset west, with eyes that saw visions trooping splendidly across that glowing background. Through Newbridge, a bustling little village where dogs barked at them and small boys hooted and curious faces peered from the windows, they drove, still in silence.
This is an excerpt from one of my favorite books called Anne of Green Gables. This was also the very first passage where I was hooked in reading because of how vividly I could picture the scene above. I was not a highly effective reader as a child. I struggled with comprehension and one of the big reasons that I struggled so much was because I specifically could not see the movie in my head.
Highly effective readers can see the movie all of the time. They read something and then they can tell you what they read because it is like pressing replay on the remote control. It is easy for them because they just replay it in their mind and tell you what happened.
Other readers struggle all of the time or some of the time, just like I did. So how can we help readers see the movie in their head?
1. Increase their vocabulary
2. Eliminate distracting thoughts
3. Be alert when reading
4. Ask the reader what she sees
First, if there are too many words that a reader does not know the meaning of, then this will hinder a movie from happening in the mind. You can try doing a word of the day program to increase words, but even if you are consistant that is only 365 words a year. So implementing this with teaching the child how to figure out words on her own will be highly beneficial. This strategy is known as context clues. The child uses the words and sentences around a word to figure out the meaning of an unknown word. For example, in the passage above is the word rapturously. Some clues to this word are given by the way the girl is holding her hands. The passage says, “hands clasped before her.” It also talks about the splendor of her surroundings. From this I can picture a girl that is wide eyed and paying close attention to detial.
Once the reader has used the details around the word to get a feel for it, then she can look it up if she needs more details. She can do this using a physical dictionary or an electronic dictionary in the form of an app or the internet. I personally like to type into google, define rapturously, and the definition is the first thing that comes up. The definitions are pretty kid friendly most of the time. When I do this I see that the definition is ecstatically.
Also a reader should pay attention to how many words are unknown to her. If there are 5 or more on a page, then the book is too hard for her and she should look for a book that will be a better fit.
Another thing that hinders readers from understanding what they are reading are distracting thoughts. I know you know what I am talking about. It happens to all of us. You spend 5 mintues reading only to realize that all of a sudden you don’t know anything that you have just read. When this happens, most people go back and reread if they feel it is necessary. The key though, is to name what is happening so that you can do something about it quicker. If you know that you are having distracting thoughts, like what am I going to have for dinner, then you can stop having them as frequently.
Readers’s are always able to make better mind movies when they are alert vs. when they are tired. So, when your child is reading, make sure to do so when she is alert. It is easier to be distracted when you are tired and it is makes it much more difficult to pay attention and create mind movies.
Lastly, talking about the mind movies you see can make them even more vivid. You can talk about details that are there as well as details that are not in the book, but you see anyways. If your child just says they don’t know or they can’t do it, then have the child read what she has read again and talk about it together. Begin to paint the pictures for her so she can see how the words in the books create pictures in her mind.
Visualizing is the habit that will make and break effective readers. You absolutely cannot be an effective reader without being able to visualize. This is why there is so much emphasis on this strategy in schools. So if you want to aid visualizing for a child, then help increase their vocabulary, help them identify distracting thoughts, make sure the child is alert, and ask them to describe in their words what they see.
What are some things that you do when you realize that you are not visualizing?