I Am Reading with Kathy Collins and Matt Glover

By Amy Brennan

On October 5, 2017 #G2Great welcomed two of the greatest advocates for our youngest meaning makers. Kathy Collins and Matt Glover support our earliest readers in nurturing ways by promoting a healthy reading identity while thye develop a love for reading as they make meaning with texts they read, whether they read the words or make meaning through the pictures or their memory of a familiar read. In their book, I Am Reading, Kathy and Matt open their introduction in part by sharing that their fascination wtih children’s thinking is what brought them together, which makes complete sense as Kathy came to the collaboration from a background of reading and Matt came from his experience with writing. Reading and writing are really rooted in the thinking that comes before, during and after both reading and writing. They are about making meaning.

Limiting children only to just right books impacts meaning making and reading identity

Children may be developing decoding skills as they advance through these levels, however they may lose the benefit of making meaning with texts and engaging in a playful sense with books that help to develop the thinking skills that children develop even before they can read conventionally. Reading identity begins to develop right away and if students are limited by choosing only just right books they begin to limit their own reading identity by these levels. The rush to advance through levels further impacts reading as students lose opportunties to interact with texts in real ways where they are developing the thinking and talking work that develops comprehension and meaning making with texts.

Rereading familiar picture books helps children’s reading, oral language, and reading identity

There are many benefits of children rereading familiar texts. Often the reading of familiar texts is discounted and comments such as, “She has heard it read so many times, she has just memorized it.”  It is helpful to consider what the child is doing when reading the familiar book:

  •  Applies reading or thinking strategies
  •  Paces the reading to the pages/illustrations
  •  Uses picture cues to make meaning or support memory
  •  Returns to previously read pages to start over
  •  Adjusts voice to reflect meaning of the text
  •  Recalls and uses rhymes and patterns in the text

In addition to strategy use and thinking there are language benefits to both reading aloud familiar books and children reading familiar books.

  • Vocabulary
  • Expressions
  • Concepts
  • Literary language patterns
  • Syntax

A child’s initial moments with unfamiliar books are critical and how we support them matters 

As a child encounters an unfamiliar text they will engage with the book in different ways than they do with familiar books. How we encourage and support this interaction matters. It matters because when children read unfamiliar books before they are reading conventionally it can be empowering. When children have opportunities to engage with texts that are unfamiliar they will need to be resourceful, put in effort, make meaning, take risks and solve problems. It is not as common for a child to pick up and engage as deeply with an unfamiliar text and for this reason how we support them matters. Children need to be provided with opportunities to choose and to read unfamiliar books as well as have motivation to do so. Supporting students to choose unfamiliar books that are:

  • Interesting and accessible
  • Have illustrations that are detailed enough to support meaning
  • Have characters who look like they are saying something
  • Elements of the illustrations are somewhat consistent

Just right books, familiar books, and unfamiliar books were just some of the topics we explored durring the chat. To learn more about supporting our earliest readers such as informational books and the value of conferring check out our #storify for the chat with Kathy Collins and Matt Glover. Their book, I Am Reading is a great source for anyone who reads with our earliest readers and wants to look deeper at ways to nuture early reading.