I have found myself struggling to find the time to write these last few weeks. I think it’s the late nights the boys keep having, largely due to the light and bedtime reading. Does anyone else have a problem with the lighter evenings? Or have to confiscate books at bedtime from a little bookworm? He his going to sleep later and later which consequently means my free time starts later and later!
C is reading his Harry Potter books for the third time. I had doubted how much he was truly understanding but I gave him a little comprehension based on an excerpt and he managed really well (sounds dull but it came as a letter from Dumbledore, so I wasn’t too mean!) and enjoyed the new challenge. He also continues dialogue when I am reading to him; he knows the characters that well! I do still wonder how much of the vocabulary he fully understands though, when he doesn’t come to ask me for definitions, but I have to remind myself that a certain amount is learnt through context. There is some challenging vocab in these books, but in context he is clearly making sense of new words and stopping to ask would interrupt the flow of his reading. I think returning to the text is him trying to fully internalise the storyline and perhaps with each read he takes in a little bit more. During a ‘first read’ he is focussing on the events and the structure, when he returns he can more engage emotionally with the characters and get more out of the book. When we re read books we interpret them differently according to where we are at that time in our lives, based on the new experiences and time that has passed. I imagine it’s a little like that for him, even though very little time is passing between each read!
Here’s a link to our comprehension, the questions are not my own, I have simply put them into my own letter to arrive on our doorstep one morning – harry potter comprehension download
Digging deep into my memory of my degree (which I won’t bore you with here!) I recall research about quality texts for children – these are the stories that can be really ‘lived through’, C is most certainly doing this. So absorbed he is by the text that he is fully engaged in his fictional world, he is ‘giving himself up to the book’ both whilst physically act of reading and for the period of time that he has a book on the go. Language and stories are a powerful way to create worlds; quality books challenge, make demands of us, allow us to escape from reality. Being home, being able to observe all this and be involved in all this with him as feels like such a privilege – and yet another perk of our home education journey!
Of course this business of quality texts is important at the earlier stages too – there is a reason why there are some books you are happy to read night after night and others you would dearly ‘lose’! I have a strong dislike of certain books that I guiltily avoid reading to the boys at all costs! Those that you love, they will love too. Those are the books through which they will develop a desire to read too: Spotting known sounds, ‘reading’ repeated phrases, or joining in with repetition and rhyme. L, on the beginning of his reading journey, is doing brilliantly with his sounds now. We have started a bit more structure as he raises the subject of being able to read (or not) quite frequently now. Each day on his chalkboard I am writing up a cvc word for him to sound out. Just changing one sound each time, so man became map, which became mat and today, completely off his own initiative he changed it to cat. A very exciting moment in our kitchen it was! He’s been making letters with play dough, and wanting me to scribe all sorts of stories for him. I love this stage. He is so genuinely delighted and proud of himself when he works out a word.
Years ago a boy in my Y2 class almost brought me to tears. He had been finding reading incredibly difficult and came from a home without many books he could access. One day he managed a page completely independently and declared “Miss Castle, I can read”, I will never forget him or his expression that day! They are the most rewarding moments in teaching. Seeing my own children piece it all together is even better!
Some old photos of my bookworms lost in their books…