Reading Kindly With Kiddos
Settle in and find a distraction-free space. Plan to pause during the reading to help young children make self-to-text connections with the book; this helps to engage them with the story, makes it personal, and transforms the book into something shared. Some questions they can hold onto till the end (if you start getting overwhelmed), but when they have questions, it is a sign of engagement--their brains are at work!
You might try questions, such as
- (Before) Let's look at the cover. Do you think this will be a silly book or a serious book? Can you name the (colors, letters, animals, etc.) that you see here?
- What do you think about [character’s] behavior here? Is it kind?
- What could [character] have done differently?
- What would you do?
- How do you think [character] is feeling here? Have you felt this way? What helped make it better? What made it worse?
- Does this remind you of something you’ve seen or experienced in real life?
- Why do you think the American Library Association gave the award to this book? What’s good about it? What is it doing or saying that’s effective? What is it teaching us?
- How do the images help tell the story?
- (After) What was your favorite part about this book?
Choosing quality picture books starts kids on a lifelong love of reading and instills a love of narrative and an appreciation of art. To find books that promote kindness, compassion, and empathy, we recommend looking at the American Library Association’s lists of award-winning picture books, including the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpre, and Stonewall awards.
It's worth noting too that picture books are not just for kids anymore. Educators have been using them successfully in the middle and high school classrooms because they are accessible, offer great ways to teach literary devices like rhyme, meter, and symbolism, and they are powerfully accessible visual texts that translate important moments in history using color, texture, shape, size, and placement.
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