Throughout the year, the pre-K Cats and Rabbits learned about caring for books. We practiced skills like turning one page at a time. We also worked on increasing our self-awareness of who we are as readers. For example, we asked the children, “How do you choose a book you want to read?” The children were very thoughtful in their responses. They suggested, “Look at the cover of the book,” or “Turn the pages to see if you like it.” Some students also had a favorite book in mind and therefore immediately knew which book to look for on the shelf. We foster these conversations about book choices in order to help children become more self-aware about the books they like and the kinds of books they don’t like as much.
During a whole group meeting, we wrote a list of books the children wanted to see on our library shelf. Some of the titles suggested were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak, Eloise at the Plaza by Kay Thompson, books about the Olympics and nonfiction books about flowers and lions. The students made their own list of books. When we checked out the books from the Early Learning Center library, we noticed that children were inspired to read books that other children recommended.
The new books on the shelf created a lot of excitement about reading. The students “read” books by turning the pages one at a time and looking at the pictures, verbally retelling a story based on memory or pointing to the words while retelling. The focus and investment toward thoughtfully picking books led us to have “book talks” after our book time. During these talks, the children sit at meeting and raise a quiet hand if they would like to participate. Book talks give children the opportunity to share anything they want to say about the book they chose or about their reading experience. Some comments shared during our book talks are, “It was about flowers,” “The book has 35 pages—I counted,” “In the book, I saw there was lava,” “I was looking at a book about dinosaurs,“ “I was reading about the whole wide world” and “My book was Bread and Jam for Frances.” Book talks are a great way to share what we’ve learned and to get ideas about books we might want to read next time.
Another thing the children enjoy doing is sharing a page in their book that stood out to them. The ability to find a particular page to share demonstrates that students are interacting with books and experiencing emotional connections, and it shows that they know the book well.
Pre-literacy skills such as being self-aware as readers, making book choices and having conversations about reading experiences make literacy meaningful to 4- and 5-year-olds. We will continue to inspire each other through literacy.
- Early Learning Center