Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday SOL Why not write a book?

This is a Tuesday "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers. Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


This past Friday, our early childhood team attended a fabulous conference presented by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, entitled "Seize the Moment: Rise to the Challenge of Pre-K." I heard and learned so many great things. I was particularly impressed with a presentation by Matt Glover, a literacy consultant, entitled "Give Kids the Richest Possible Immersion in Read Aloud, Shared Reading, and Talk About Books." 

Isn't funny how you can't judge a workshop by its cover title?
I read the workshop title and I thought for sure I would learn some neat tricks for my own read-alouds on how to engage the children. 

Matt Glover began the session with a brief film clip of his then 2 1/2 year old daughter reading aloud Mo Willems' Knuffle Bunny. This was adorable! You could see that she was very familiar with the book, seeming to imitate mannerisms and expressions, reading with a rhythm, laughing at known jokes. Truly precious!

He asked, Was she a reader?

Yes! I think so! Sure, she's only 2 1/2, and I suppose most of what I heard was a little girl reciting words from her memory, but, wow, she was projecting her voice, even changing her intonation, turning those pages with authority - yes, she was a reader!

Did you hear the sound of my hand hitting my forehead last Friday morning? 
This workshop wasn't about adults performing read-alouds for children, but instead it focused on the simple and awesome idea of encouraging preschoolers to see themselves as readers and writers.

This is how you help preschoolers see themselves as readers and writers, 
through simple, daily opportunities just as Matt Glover shared with us in the film clip,
asking children, regularly:
"Would you read this book to me?" 
"Would you like to write a book?"  

You are setting the expectation that preschoolers are readers and writers,

He spoke beautifully of 'nurturing development and honoring approximations' - in other words, with these very young children, notice and encourage the very small behaviors, such as

turning pages of a book,
making up dialogue for characters,
noticing different characters,
reading to oneself,
imagining a story,
remembering a story,
recalling special words in a familiar text,
connecting pictures to words,
looking at a page and making up meaning,
thinking up a plot,
and so much more.

I loved that he wasn't talking about giving directions such as,
"This is how we read a book, see we turn it page by page…" but, instead,
nudging children along,
"Tell me, what do you see? - Oh, yes! You are reading!"
Matt Glover suggested that we not get too hung up on accuracy or on writing down the specific words they say as they read…but, simply, to foster the child's ability to read and write -- making reading and writing 'the norm' for every child. Give children the time and the space to be readers and writers!

This is how we help preschoolers think like readers and writers.

So, what was the first thing I did on Monday morning? What was my immediate take-away from the conference? (Don't we always take away at least one thing?)

Monday morning, I placed many, many blank books (nothing special - several pages of paper stapled together) in the writing center and invited children to write a book. What a hoot! This table was filled all morning along (see photo above). The preschoolers soaked up this opportunity.

The table was filled with writers. 

They were sure of their artistry, sure of their writing. At the end of centers, I invited them to read their books aloud. They were sure of their words!  [And, amusingly - as Matt Glover had forewarned - the story changed, each time they re-read their book!]

It's okay!

They are preschoolers.
They are preschoolers who see themselves as readers and writers.

Let me share one…here is Naima's first book… it has four pages ...

Naima told me it was "a little bit scary book, about loud noises," and that is all she wanted to share.
Again, it's okay!

She sees herself as a reader and writer.


  1. Thanks for sharing your learning from the calendar day you attended with Matt Glover. I've only heard him speak once (at NCTE) and was so impressed by him. I hope to hear him speak again so I can learn from him re: my daughter. In the meantime, I'll pass the link to your post along to her (incredible) preschool teacher.

  2. I love Matt's approach to thinking about reading and writing. I would LOVE to hear him speak! It really is about SEEING and THINKING we are readers and writers - no matter what our ages.