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08 September 2013 @ 10:39 am
Closing in  
No surprise that I have been reading quite a bit about close reading. This post pointed me to a power point presentation on a strategy for using close reading wit young readers and a picture book. Here is the link to the power point : http://www.shanahanonliteracy.com/2012/07/planning-for-close-reading.html. First, some background.

Picture books have 32 pages, generally in 16 double page spreads (two facing pages). Generally, the word count is rather spare since illustrations are to convey story as well. If I were to select a book to share with kids, I most likely would begin with some of the books recently honored by the ASSOCIATION FOR LIBRARY SERVICES TO CHILDREN (ALSC) such as the winners of the Caldecott. Here are the criteria for the award which should serve to underscore that they are RIGOROUS and worthy of sharing with kids: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottterms/caldecottterms.

I have been sharing the recent Caldecott winner and Honor titles as I go out for staff development. I hope to high heavens that I have not spawned the practice of reading through these books three times, one for each of the reading bands. Each reading should have a distinct purpose as follows:

The first reading of a text should allow the reader to determine what a text says

The second reading should allow the reader to determine how a text works

The third reading should allow the reader to evaluate the quality and value of the text (and to connect the text to other texts)

The count of questions for the first reading (comprehension) was 20 questions. That is TWENTY. TWENTY. Twenty questions over 16 double page spreads. For the second reading (style and craft) the count was 11. So far a total of 31 questions, about one per page. The final reading questions were rather generic so I did not make a final tally. So, let me review the situation (I think of the scene with Fagin in OLIVER! where he reviews the situation). We read a book to kids three separate times for three separate purposes. We ask a myriad of questions, all text dependent (because there is no SELF to be involved here, just the text as focus).

I have said it before, but it bears repeating here: if someone wants to mange a text for this type of reading, please select a text that is NOT one kids will enjoy reading. Why? I fear that kids will now turn up their noses when we mention picture books or Caldecott or CSK or Belpre or Geisel instead of welcoming a chance to hear WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE one more time or to see the hilarious situation in I WANT MY HAT BACK! or even to delve into the glorious HUGO CABRET with its double page textless spreads that move the story forward without words. If teachers want to pound a book into the ground, I hope they opt for books that are not destined to be favorites of readers. Leave the good books alone. Better yet, use the old basals. Take Dick and Jane and Spot into the land of 20+ questions. Oh, that's right. We cannot do that as they are not rigorous. OK, take the celebrity books then. Rush Limbaugh has one coming out this month. There are books by Madonna, Kenny Loggins, Danielle Steele, and others that deserve to be interrogated and found wanting.

Using picture books to drill kids with questions is NOT a good idea. Using picture books to introduce a lesson is fine. Reading the same book over and over and over again to drain every last drop of fun from it is not.
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