Tips for teaching kids to enjoy books

The jump from learning to read to reading to learn is one of the toughest educational challenges kids face. As teachers and parents, it’s our job to make that transition as painless as possible so that children become bibliophiles.

That’s why I was excited to read Raising the Standards, Through Chapter Books: The C.I.A. Approach, by Sarah Collinge. C.I.A. stands for “collect, interpret and apply.” At its very heart, the C.I.A. approach teaches kids to understand, synthesize and write about key information. Collinge developed her methods right here in Washington State.

After reading the book, I’m really excited about ways that parents can incorporate many of Collinge’s ideas at home.

Here are some practices to try:

1. Divide your next chapter book read aloud into four quadrants using post-it notes. This is going to make a chapter book seem less scary and more approachable. The C.I.A. method is all about helping kids develop the stamina to get through challenging material.

2. Use a “turn to talk” framework to help kids identify places in a book that give readers important information.

“When the book said__________ I inferred/visualized/predicted/thought_______________.”

3. At the end of quadrant one, help your kids identify the four corners of a story that hold the whole thing together:

  • character
  • setting
  • problem
  • main events

Quadrant one is the most laborious. The first quarter of a chapter books is when kids need the most support to understand what’s going on.

4. In quadrant two, start looking for the hidden and ambiguous. Keep your eye out for the following:

  • vocabulary
  • repeated words
  • author’s style
  • themes

Don’t forget to summarize what you know. This is especially important in bedtime read aloud, when you might not have read for a few nights.

5. In quadrant three, help your child identify the turning point of the novel.

Were you able to predict the turning point? What evidence enabled your prediction? What is the author trying to say? The more you can point out specific passages in books to ground your answer, the better.

6. In quadrant four, read quickly and with enjoyment.

The last part of the book should be the easiest. Kids understand what’s going on, and are excited to reach the conclusion.

I am very glad that Collinge sent me a copy of her book for review so that I could brag a little bit about this exciting pedagogy coming from Washington state.

For more information about the C.I.A. approach to reading, please check out Read Side By Side.

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