Mommy-Daughter Book Talks

During our routine bedtime stories tonight, my five-year-old daughter stopped midway through reading her book to me and said, “Mom, this is like Jan Brett. The author is giving us picture clues.”

“What do you mean?” I asked her. It sounded like she was making a connection, but I was surprised by her casual use of an author’s name so I asked her to clarify just to be sure.

“Like in the book The Mitten,” she explained. “The author gives picture clues to show what animal is coming next.” Yep, she had made a text-to-text connection that both surprised and amazed me.

“What’s a text-to-text connection?” She asked me when I told her she had made one. And thus, a teachable moment about a reading strategy that she already does naturally began.

It may come as no surprise that I love reading to my kids and talking to them about books. But what I love even more is the excitement my kids show over reading and talking about books. Recently my daughter asked me if we could start our own book club. Just us. And sometimes we’d let Daddy join in too. Of course, I was more than willing to participate. During our special book club meetings, according to her rules, we each read a book of our choosing and then we tell the other person about our book. What a great way to practice summarizing! And we could ask questions about each other’s books. Another great way to gauge comprehension. My daughter doesn’t realize she’s learning. She just thinks it’s fun. But for the teacher in me, the teachable moments are endless! Our book clubs and book talks have become a wonderful way for us to spend quality time together as well as practice reading skills.

Just recently, I read my daughter a book titled Elena’s Story. It’s about a young Mayan girl near Guatemala who goes to school, helps her mom take care of her little brother and baby sister, does chores around their house, helps with planting, and figures out her role in the family while her father is away as she practices her reading and shares a story with her brother. The story provides great insight into the life of a girl, close to my daughter’s age, from another culture in another part of the world. After finishing the book, I asked my daughter how her life was similar to Elena’s. She pointed out that they both go to school and they both help their moms with their little brothers. Then we talked about how Elena’s life was different. Her life was harder. She had more chores to do, especially while her father was away. They had to walk everywhere and read by candlelight that they could barely afford. She struggled to find time to read and stay caught up in school because she was responsible for always watching her little brother.  It made for an interesting conversation about how people live differently in different cultures, but how she and Elena had many similarities as well even though their lives were so different. Just by talking about the book, we practiced several comprehension skills including making connections (text-to-self), comparing and contrasting, and drawing conclusions. Then my daughter asked a question (another comprehension strategy), that led to another teachable moment. “Are we rich or poor?” She asked, after we drew the conclusion that Elena’s family was poor and had more struggles than we did.

“Well, that’s a matter of perspective,” I said. And that led to a very interesting discussion about what perspective means and how one person’s view of things like rich and poor is different than another’s. And in my daughter’s typical 5-year old fashion of summarizing every new thing she learns, we ended our discussion with her giving me an example of perspective by using a butterfly analogy.

“So if everyone in the world owned butterflies,” she explained, “and we had, say, twenty butterflies, then someone who had 100 butterflies would think we didn’t have very many butterflies, but someone who only had four butterflies would say wow, they have a lot of butterflies.”

“Good example!” I responded, proud of her understanding. “That’s perspective.” Then, after another question about what jobs make the most money (I gave her a few examples like famous actors and singers and CEO’s of big companies) and whether her daddy makes a lot of money, I again explained that it’s a matter of perspective. She went on to further demonstrate her understanding by making more connections (the Aha! moments that a teacher lives for!).

“So Elena’s daddy (a plantation worker), would think my daddy makes a lot of money, but the person in charge of Facebook would think daddy makes hardly any money.

“Yep,” I responded again, laughing at her example. “You got it!”

And with that, we ended another great book talk with its ensuing teachable moments and comprehension practice. I love seeing my daughter learn through books, and I love sharing these moments with her. I hope our book talks never end, but rather grow and evolve as her love of reading does. And I also hope that by sharing my mommy-daughter book talk experiences, I can help inspire someone else to share wonderful teaching moments like these with their kids as well.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nancy Barth
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 23:47:20

    great story! Your daughter really figured out some important stuff.

    Reply

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