Reading. The enjoyment of reading is not about finding the main idea or answering questions about the details in the text. It’s about being able to find the joy in reading a story that allows you to enter a new world while you connect with characters - characters that we end up getting to know like we would our friends! This is why I love reading. So, now that I have kids, I get to share this love of reading with them.
For us, the book doesn’t end when we turn the final page and close the back cover - the book lives in us, in our day, in our conversations. These beyond the book moments are where the true joy of reading that book comes out. When we think about our dreams, our fears, our day, our family and friends and then connect these moments to our book, we can better visualize and understand the story. These post-book interactions give us another space to further bring our books to life.
I want my children to see the joy in reading, the joy of sharing stories, so I often share my post-book thoughts, make up stories based on our readings, or share funny creative stories or songs based on the moments of our day. I share my thinking with my children while also getting them to create their own connections and share their own thoughts about the book. Beyond discussing the book, there are many post-book experiences that we can engage in to not only develop our love for reading, but also to practice some of the important skills of reading. So, here are a few ways that you can move beyond the reading and make those stories and moments come to life.
Building with Blocks
Block building is a time tested play activity that encompasses many important skills. From planning and design to mathematical skills of balance and measurement, children use their imagination to create various structures! So, how can I tie this into reading? Here are a few ideas:
Build the setting: When we read books, we discuss where and when the story is taking place. Building with blocks gives us a chance to recreate the setting of a book.
Create scenes from the book: We can choose a page in the book to rebuild with blocks. Recently we read a book and used block build to explore a fancy word.
Word work: When reading, we often run into words that we are unfamiliar with. Once we use the context clues and other tools to figure out what the word means, we could use building to support further understanding the word. For example, we recently read Big Umbrella and ran into the word shelter. We spoke about the word, and then we used our blocks to create shelters for different sized stuffed animals and toys.
Create the characters: We can choose a character to build or draw. Recently, with my children at home, we read several different versions of The Little Red Riding Hood and we built the characters.
Many of our books encourage us to dabble with art. The illustrations in picture books help bring the authors’ vision of their story to life. As young readers, we learn to read these pictures, follow it throughout the story and use it in our understanding. Even as more experienced readers, we use the visuals and pictures to better understand the text (especially nonfiction). So, how do I plan art projects from our books? When we read, I often think about how I can pull the art from the book. I think about how we could further explore the themes in the text and further enjoy the creative world we entered in the book. I consider the illustrations as well as the events themselves and ask myself, what can we do to further interact with this text? What can we do to further explore our creativity while discussing and connecting to the text. Here are a few examples of ones we have explored recently.
Sky Color by Peter Reynolds - after reading the book, create your own sky! Look at various pages from the book. Then go outside during several parts of the day to examine the sky. Jot down the things we notice. Make your own watercolors with food coloring looking to mimic the colors you saw.
Perfect Square by Micheal Hall - after reading the book, provide a perfect square cut out and challenge your students to think about what they can make with a perfect square!
10 Black Dots by Donald Crews - after reading the book, create your own picture with a chosen amount of black dots!
Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss - Create your own Wacky Picture!!
Puppets and Readers’ Theater Retelling
After we read, we love to act out our stories and further explore the characters, their actions and emotions. We sometimes make finger puppets and act out the book! For younger readers, I read the line and then they read it. Eventually, they remember all the lines of the story and enjoy making it their own. Although we had a lot of fun making the puppets, we also take our beloved stuffed animals to act out stories. Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems are great books for this. And, if your house is anything like ours, you can finally repurpose the hundreds of stuffed animals that lay on the bed with their sole purpose to increase the amount of time it takes to actually make the bed (and of course provide comfort for your little ones) to become actors in the reenactment of our most loved adventures!