This morning I had a conversation with my son about reading books. We talked about the fact that there is so much more to a good book than an entertaining storyline. The challenge is to find the hidden treasures as we enjoy the story.
It came to me that having a book at our disposal is like having an expert on any given topic at our disposal. When we sit down and read it is like sitting in a lecture given by such an expert. We then have a choice we can daydream through their presentation or we can be alert, take notes and make the most of our opportunity.
When we go to such a lecture / presentation we have a purpose for spending our time there we want to learn the topic, or we want to learn from this person. The same goes for a book when we pick up a book it is for a purpose. Is the purpose to relax and enjoy the story or is the purpose to learn something. Both are valid purposes.
The danger is though that we dont make the distinction and we enjoy every book as an opportunity to relax. If we do this, we will miss so many opportunities to grow.
I have set my children a reading list it is much bigger reading list than they will actually read this year but it gives them the freedom to choose within the boundaries that I have set for them.
Before they set out to read a book from their reading list they are required to come to me and we will discuss the purpose behind reading the book. Why is it on their reading list? Why did they choose it from the selection?
This discussion opens up doors for background information and vocab. Recently, as Jessica set out to read an Australian History selection, we discussed the purpose of this book and it became obvious that she didnt know anything about the topic of Immigration. So we discussed it not on an academic level; just two people tossing thoughts around. There were also a few words that she didnt understand so we used a dictionary to cover these definitions. After this discussion she was ready to read the book and glean more from it than a story with a happy ending. This book, intertwined with an interesting people story, covers issues such as Australias Immigration policy and White Australia Policy. It will open doors for understanding and discussion on Multi-Culturalism, diversity etc etc. These are topics that get discussed today but had that purpose not been introduced to her she would have skipped over those bits, not making any connections and would have just read a story about a Chinese family in early Australia.
As they read their book they are required to use a Bookmark/Notepaper I have designed to fit neatly into their books. Using this Bookmark they always have somewhere to write their thoughts, questions and discoveries.
When they are finished their book, with their completed Bookmark they have already done the first step to one or more Notebook pages they would like to complete.
· Questions on the Bookmark will lead to research to find answers.
· Quotes on the Bookmark will lead to essays, or even a decorated notebook page celebrating the quote itself.
· Discoveries on the Bookmark could lead to further investigations and recording as they think it further.
· Private thoughts on the Bookmark could lead to writing their own positional paper, or a letter to the author. Etc etc
There really is no limit to what can be done once the thoughts have been captured on the Bookmark.
Briefly I see some of the benefits of using the Bookmark:
· Beginning to take notes
· You have some thoughts to begin your Notebooking immediately you dont forget some great thought you had while reading.
· If you dont get to a Notebook page you do, in fact, already have something recorded about your thinking as you read the book: Your Bookmark!
So I set the challenge before my children, and before myself, to see books as an opportunity to learn from someone who has done research, who is passionate about a subject and who has an opinion for me to think about!