Independent Literature Study: The Child and the Well-Chosen Book


Gina Barrett

One of the complaints of both children and teachers is the cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all approach of textbooks. Children, like adults, enjoy making personal choices. Independent literature study is a key idea in the developing strong reading skills, especially in children transitional readers. Transitional readers are those who recognize many words, who can use clues to decode words, and who can summarize what they have read. In independent literature study these children use literature in personal and meaningful ways. With a wise teacher or parent guiding the way, children can be set on the path of being a life-long reader.


Bibliotherapy and "Blessing" the Child's Book

Successful independent literature study requires the encouragement and guidance from the teacher or home schooler. Children will need assistance in selecting literature that is not too difficult or too easy. A teacher or parent who is knowledgeable about a student’s life might guide the student to books that will help them deal with personal issues. Taking this approach, known as bibliotherapy, a child who is expecting a new sibling might be pointed to books on new babies.

“Blessing” particular books to heighten interest is recommended. Cunningham & Allington explain that this involves "showing it to children and briefly…commenting about it.” Children often crave individual attention and praise. Praising the child's choice of book enhances self esteem as well as excites the child's interest.


The Book Nook

Shhh! The teacher must also schedule an inviolable block of time for silent reading. Creating a cozy reading corner with pillows, beanbags or fluffy rugs is one way to help children settle into reading. RIF, Reading is Fundamental, suggests having twShhh! The teacher must also schedule an inviolable block of time for silent reading. Creating a cozy reading corner with pillows, beanbags or fluffy rugs is one way to help children settle into reading. RIF, Reading is Fundamental, suggests having two to four books per child available. Posters featuring books and readers are a smart addition. The books available should represent fiction and non-fiction as well as poetry and reference books.

At home, a child may have large pillow in a special, well-lit corner. Or a child may be given a small chair next to the chair where the parent reads. The child should have a variety of books, magazines, and other print sources available. Ideally, the child should have a surface upon which to write and reflect as well. Inexpensive lap desks are available that would fit the bill.


The Literature Log: Journaling about Books

According to Combs children engaging in independent literature study should be encouraged to keep literature response log that will be reviewed during conferences with the teacher. The conferences include listening to children read orally and are designed to monitor children’s response and understanding, fluency and intonation, word recognition and self-monitoring, and pacing. Book choices should be discussed. This is a good time for a teacher to re-enforce good book choices.

Children love choice. Independent literature study, combining guided choice with monitoring learning activities is a win-win situation for teachers who do not want to use a one-size-fits all textbook-approach.


Article Source: www.Suite101.com

 

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