1. After Reading

  • Promote discussions that help children to

  • Summarize: discuss issues of plot and lead children to summarize what happened in the story. With children’s input, make a list of all the plot points on the board. For nonfiction, make a list of all the major facts or ideas that the text contained.

  • Develop character understanding: ask questions about the motives, interests, and concerns of real or fictional characters in their texts. For example, “Even though Toad was doing great and wonderful things in his dream, he was unhappy. Why?” Children may answer, “Because he missed his friend, Frog.” Help them to go further. Ask what this tells us about Toad. (That he is a character who cares about friendship more than glory.)

  • Relate texts to their own lives: encourage children to make connections between the texts and themselves, their homes, their neighborhoods, their feelings and aspirations. If children read an illustrated essay about animal tracks, ask them to talk about the animals and birds in their backyard or neighborhood, and what sort of tracks they might see. The discussion can go in many personal directions from here. You might ask children what traces they leave behind when they take a walk. Or the class might consider the lives of scientists who study animal tracks and whether or not this might be an interesting field of work.

  • Give children a writing or drawing assignment connected to what they have read. They can do this in groups, in class, or at home. You might have children do a book review, or ask them to write a letter to the author, explaining any feelings or insights about the author ’s work. To get children started, ask them if they think the author expressed himself or herself very well and why. Ask if the story could have been improved and if there was something else they wish the author had added to his or her work.

    Another creative approach is to have students write and illustrate an advertisement about the book, designed to appeal to the next year ’s class. Ask the class if they think other children might like the book and why, and suggest that they include this information in their advertisement. Help them to come up with slogans and a dramatic or enticing scene from the book that would work well for illustration in their advertisement.

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