Can you still remember how you first learned to read? Who was your first teacher? Who influenced you to choose reading as your hobby? What was the first book that you read?
The answers to these questions are important because researches show that “the successful reader is the child who was read to at a very early age.” If the parents and grandparents of your pupils spend some time with their one or two-year old looking at picture books or telling stories, they are doing a great job in helping you develop reading readiness. These pupils are more ready to tackle their first school work than those who did not have such a joyful experience.
My great love for reading started with the story telling hour in our home. Every evening after supper, my seven cousins and I would sit in a semi-circle and listen to fairy tales, folk tales, legends, fables, parables, myths, science fictions, and stories of adventure.
Our storytellers: my grandmother, mother, aunties, elder sisters, and cousins were all female except James, a young sacristan in our local parish, who did not run out of stories. Oftentimes I sat on their lap because I was the most inquisitive and I asked a lot of why and how questions. At the age of five I knew that every story has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. I also learned that many interesting stories began with: Once upon a time, A long time ago or Long, long ago. The idea of setting: time, place, and characters and of plot which consists of episodes gradually formed in my mind. Hence when we talk about an effective approach to developing comprehension, the first one that comes to my mind is the story grammar technique which consists of the following:
2. Theme or Message
- Beginning event (problem)
- Reaction of characters
- Goal or Purpose
- Attempts or Efforts
- Results or Outcome
When I was assigned to teach first graders I shared with them many enjoyable moments: telling and listening to their stories, talking to them, singing, playing, guessing games, laughing with them, and answering their questions. They described characters in the stories and identified themselves with their favorite characters. They took part in dialogs and dramatic oral reading. Moreover, they memorized and recited jingles, rhymes and poems. I noticed that the pupils were very much interested. It was easy to secure their attention and good behavior.
Later when I taught pupils in the higher grades (from two to six), I reserved 30 minutes daily for the storytelling-reading hour. Just like the first graders, the pupils looked forward to this activity with excitement. To make it more appealing and stimulating we used props, models, and realia (objects from real life used in classroom instruction). The props are toy animals, dolls, fruits, and other object that represent characters and events in the story. Sometimes we used the cine or TV device, or accordion-style where the scenes and dialogs unfold one-by-one in proper sequence. The storyteller puts the objects inside a prop box or bag. As the story is told, he/she takes the prop out of the box one by one to enliven the presentation.
Cutouts and puppets, either stick, paper bag, finger or hand puppet catch the children’s attention. They listen to the dialogs and are fascinated as the puppets act out the story. Children imagine or pretend that the story happened to them or their friends. To vary the presentation a diorama with colorful scenery serves as a background for the stick puppets and cutouts.
Some children prefer flannel or felt-board for stories with few characters and changing settings. So as they stick the character involved on the board, their movement from one another adds to the dramatic impact. Children love to manipulate attractive objects and cutouts.
In addition to these activities and visual aids the children take turns in serving as librarians in our library corner. Books, supplementary readers, and magazines donated by parents and friends are displayed on shelves which invite children to browse and read so that they can share and advertise some stories. They read during recess and study periods.
With pupils in the intermediate grades, I encourage “book talk” the beyond is what happen when rich fulfilling literature surges into the classroom. Students enjoy literature discussion groups, book clubs and literature circles – small groups of students who read a common text and come together to talk about it. They share the thoughts and feelings that reading a book stimulates. By experiencing a story, students discover literature’s potential to illuminate life. They are young traveler’s on life’s road; they learn from mentors and classmates who lead the way or walk beside them through literature.
During meetings of our Parent Teachers Association, the librarians and teachers of Filipino and English appeal to parents to give books as gifts for Christmas and birthday anniversaries; as prizes for winners in contests, for belonging to the top ten in any subject area, or for exemplary conduct. We ask them to have books and magazines around the house and show their children that they are reading for pleasure. We also request them to guide their children in selecting wholesome TV shows, literary classics, and values-laden literature.
Another group we appeal to are writers and publishers. They can do a lot in promoting the reading habit by providing attractive, interesting books that stir the imagination, books that are reader-friendly with beautiful illustrations, vocabulary suited to the level of the target readers, relevant and timely stories and poems covering a wide range of topics from the barung-barong to the palace about various ethnic groups.
To promote the reading habit of a lifetime, let us recall this little poem.
I always think book covers
Are like little golden doors,
They open into someone’s house
Where I have not been before.
A elfman or a fairy
May open it for me,
I always wonder when I knock
What welcome there will be.
So when I find a house that’s dull,
I do not often stay,
But when I find it full of friends
I stay and spend the day. – Anonymous