I had such a cool teaching moment today. I work with 3 and 4 year olds. All I want to do is make them love books and feel like reading is something that will open doors for them. If I do that then I feel like the learning-to-read part will come when they are ready.
Well, yesterday I had my usual story time at the end of the day. As I read I ask questions, get them to notice things in the pictures and predict what will happen next. We had a little time left over so I got them to recap the story for me and we looked at the beginning, middle and end.
As I closed the book I remarked “You guys are getting to be really good readers!”
“We can’t read!” they said “We don’t know how to read!”
“Sure you do.” I replied “Maybe you can’t read the words on the page yet but you guys are really good at reading the pictures!”
I flipped open to a page with a little kid on it and asked them how he felt “Sad!” they said
“How do you know?”
“He looks like he is crying”
“See!” I told them triumphantly “You didn’t know the words on the page but you knew what he was feeling.” I could see this proud little look stealing over their faces.
Then, I drew a stop sign on the board “What does that say?” I ask them “STOP!” They all shouted.
“You read again!” I said
So today, I brought in a copy of “The Snowy Day.” I told them that I wasn’t going to read it to them….they were going to read it to me. Page by page we went through and they narrated what was going on in the picture. After, I went back and read it to them using the words that they had chosen. On each page one of them would say excitedly “Oh! This is the page that I read!”
In fancy education terms, what this is called is “emergent reading” Interacting with books, knowing beginning, middle and end, retelling stories and being familiar with common signs and symbols. All of it layering on the skills and confidence to begin reading the words on the page.
In the moment, it was all about their excitement that they themselves were actually readers. And that was a pretty good feeling.