This post was written for Day 3 of the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. The overall theme for this year's Share a Story is Literacy: The First Five Years. Day 3, hosted by Debbie Alvarez at The Styling Librarian, focuses on literacy for pre-preschoolers (ages 2-3). Since I work on building a love of books for my pre-preschooler (Baby Bookworm, who is nearly 3) every day, this seemed like a theme in which I should participate. Specifically, I'd like to talk about making connections between books and day to day life.
Making connections between books and the real world is a recommendation that I've seen in various blog posts and books. But for me, this isn't actually something that I work on consciously. I think that this is just something that happens when you have a book-focused household. If you read the same book over and over and over again (as will happen), it's natural that you think of that book when something crops up. All you have to do is share those thoughts with your child, and let her share them with you.
Yesterday morning, as I was lying in bed looking at the sunlight coming in, I thought: "The sun was up. The day was bright. It filled our room with yellow light." This is the opening for Good night, laila tov, by Laurel Snyder and Jui Ishida (my review). My daughter wasn't there at the time. But if she had been, it would have been the most natural thing in the world to say those words aloud. She would have known what I meant.
When we see a dog, she'll mention Bailey (by Harry Bliss). When she is being particular about what she wants to wear, I'll tell her that she's being like Ella Sarah (Margaret Chodos-Irvine), or Zoe (Bethanie Deeney Murguia). Sometimes I'll say "hmmpf", and my daughter laughs and says that I'm being "just like Bear" (from Bug and Bear, by Ann Bonwill and Layn Marlow). When she gets dressed in the morning, Baby Bookworm will say: "pink me up" or "purple me up", in reference to Charise Mericle Harper's Pink Me Up!. When we go through the security lane at the airport, her blanket goes through the big machine, just like Knuffle Bunny (Mo Willems).
These things are pretty much seamless. I think the important thing is to encourage them as much as possible. You don't need to force it, or make artificial references to books. But if something that you see makes you think of a book, by all means point it out. And if your child refers to something from a book, celebrate that, and encourage it where you can.
Of course there are other ways that these connections work, too. Up to this point, I've been talking about mentioning things that you've seen in books as you go about your day-to-day life. Another aspect of making connections lies in mentioning things about your day-to-day life as you are reading books. And although this is a little bit different, I think that includes making connections between books. Because the other books are part of our life, too.
So, when we were reading Big Mean Mike (Michelle Knudsen and Scott Magoon) last night, I pointed out to my daughter that Mike's reaction to the bunnies was almost exactly the same as Bear's reaction to Mouse in A Visitor for Bear (Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton). This, to be honest, was over her head. But when we see a reference to a tiger in a book, it's logical for me to say, "what other tigers do we know from books?" and for her to chime in with "Louis!" (Louis the Tiger Who Came from the Sea, Michal Kozlowski and Sholto Walker).
When we see a reference in a book to a baby, we talk about Baby Bookworm's new baby cousin. We just read Bear's Busy Family (Stella Blackstone and Debbie Harter), and talked about all of her cousins. When we read Pink Me Up!, there's a reference at the end to a daddy who is a doctor. Baby Bookworm always chimes in with "My daddy a doctor, too."
Making these latter sorts of connections (back to the real world, or to other books, while reading) may feel a bit more forced, at first. Sometimes as a reader you don't want to interrupt the book to talk about something else. But I think, particularly for books that are repeat reads, that this actually makes your child appreciate the book more. The book has relevance to her life. And she can better understand what something means, if it's compared with something concrete that she knows.
In summary, here are three ways to help your pre-preschooler to make connections between books and life:
- Point out connections to favorite books as you go about your day to day activities. This shows your child that you value books, and increases his or her excitement about reading the books. If you do this consistently, you'll soon find that your child is making these connections on his own.
- As you read books, point out connections between the book and the child's larger world. This shows your child that books are relevant, and helps to enhance her understanding.
- As you read books, point out connections to other books. This helps to solidify the universe of books in your child's mind, and gives him practice in making connections (which can in turn help with 1 and 2).
Making connections between books and day to day life (and between books and other books) is a way to improve your pre-reading child's literacy. It's also fun, easy, and completely addictive. I highly recommend it.
© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).