Creating Conversations through Reading Literature

Each time a book is opened, the pages read and turned, something wonderful happens to the reader. He or she feels transported to that very page being read, and becomes able to witness the setting and hear the thoughts of every character. It’s a wonderful moment when a child is enabled to share the deepest secrets discovered through reading. Emotion arises as lines of text are presented to us in sometimes grand, intricate details. If we listen carefully, we can learn a great deal about our child’s feelings toward particular themes, such as friendship and antagonism, fairness and justice, and how our children process problems and solutions. While our child may not talk openly about his or her school day, conversation becomes easier when it’s about someone else, fictional or not. Secretly, we, as parents, have a wonderful pathway to guide our children through life’s many situations. In using books, we can bridge the delicate conversations about friendship and relationships, questionable actions, bullying and a need for help, for instance. Lucky for us, there is an unlimited resource to inspire conversation. Amen for the millions of wonderful books at our fingertips!

The Teachable Moment

Whether the book is The Little Engine That Could, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, The Phantom Tollbooth, Little Women, Divergent, or one of the seven books in the Harry Potter series, the moment will arrive in a “pop!” Yes! Without even looking for it, the “teachable moment” will cause either your child or you to break from the text and ask a question. While you may want to be direct, try to offer open-ended questions that will foster thought and an answer beyond “Yes” or “No.” For instance, consider asking:

  • Why did this happen?
  • How would you help the character?
  • What would you do differently?
  • How do you think the character feels?
  • What is your favorite event or character so far?

Older children will be able to recognize a test question; therefore, your focus should be on content and openly talking about the events in the story. For most children, a parent’s curiosity will, in fact, spark an open conversation. Consider sharing your favorite titles, and introduce the classics, such as Alice in Wonderland or Charlotte’s Web, Treasure Island or the Indian in the Cupboard.

Great Quotes Contest

Christy Simpson writes, “My son was the kid who would run to my bedroom and want to tell me every event in his Magic Tree House book in one breath. He was so proud to be an independent reader and just wanted to share the experience with me. It didn’t matter what he was reading. I started picking up his books and reading along with him. We’re building a special relationship through fictional characters, and openly talking about anything and everything. In this last year, we started a game of picking out our favorite quotes and talking about them. He’s willing to approach books more readily, without caution and worry about a reading level. His teachers love that he’s reading, and is growing to share his thoughts in his classroom.”

Reading or Listening

True, while holding and reading a book is an intimate experience, families can still enjoy listening to a book during the morning commute to school. It may be difficult at first to train your mind to focus on the content of the words, and follow the story; yet, audio books can help individuals become excellent listeners. Most books can be downloaded onto your iPhone and played in your vehicle (if it is Bluetooth accessible).

Great Books Which Foster Conversation

Think back to your childhood and recall those titles which helped you grow as a person, or understand the world a little better. Dr. Seuss, Norton Juster, C.S. Lewis, and Judy Blume may be inspiring authors; yet, the simple fact is that conversation begins with two. And, a book is all that is needed to bring the two together. Happy reading and sharing!

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” ~ Roald Dahl, The Minpins