Text to text connections. And text to world connections. Add to that text to self connections. Boy — we educators have a way of labeling revolutionary active reading strategies with boring names.
First, let’s look at an example to see what this connection business is really about. Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice. How many of us can relate to misjudging someone? Falling for the wrong guy? Protecting those we love? (And wouldn’t you love to have her ability to deliver the perfect comeback?)
We connect to her (and the story) because we see ourselves in her. We’ve all misjudged someone. We love her strength and her follies because we relate!
This is why reading is crucial to kids. Not just to stay on grade level. But so they can relate to the world. And trying figuring it out.
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Text to Text Connections: Why jump in?
Connections are half the fun of reading! In fact, it’s like diving into the pool. Why just dip your toes in? Or watch others have fun?
We’re teaching our young readers how swim. How to to dive! How to swim under water for longer and longer distances.
Then, we’re showing them the thrill of pushing yourself to touch the bottom of the pool. How to see stuff they missed before. And the thrill of opening your eyes under the water and seeing a familiar yet different world.
Your Childhood Connections
Reflect on the books you loved as a child. Why did they grab you?
As a kid, I loved any book with kids who were independent. Who made stuff happen far away from the all-knowing adults. The Three Investigators. Peter Hatcher. Vicky Austin.
Later there was the horse phase. The Black Stallion. All the Marguerite Henry books.
As a kid, you’re trying on personalities through books. Trying to figure out where the borders of you are.
And we‘re the lucky ones who help kids with that life-changing work!
Text to Text Connections | Are these authors besties?
This afternoon, I was reading aloud Holes by Louis Sachar. We got to the part where Elya gets the runt piglet. One of my students called out, “Wait! That’s just like Charlotte’s Web!”
While there couldn’t be two books less alike than Holes and Charlotte’s Web, she was right! The two stories leaned heavily on the fate of a tiny pig.
Kids ask if certain authors are friends when the books have similarities. And while it’s possible, the more likely answer is that all authors are rehashing old stories and themes. Then adding their own bit of magic!
CANNONBALL!!! Text to Self Connections
Any teacher can tell you that text-to-self is every kid’s favorite connection. It’s the cannonball of pool fun.
They’re obsessed with themselves. And with good reason! It’s developmentally appropriate to focus on their own path, after all.
Begin your year with easy text-to-self connections:
- Does the character remind you of anyone in your life?
- How are you like or unlike the character?
- What does the setting have in common with your home?
- When did you feel like this?
If you tap into a child’s life, you’ve got ’em hooked. They can talk all day about themselves!
Text to World Connections| For kids who watch the news
Text to world connections are higher-level thinking.
In every class, there are students who are saavy about the world. They may be big non-fiction readers. Or they might subscribe to a magazine. (Two of my students have subscribed to this one and it’s SO COOL! They bring issues into class and the other kids always ask to borrow them!)
Their adults might watch the news and discuss with with them.
These students will love to talk about how your current read aloud reminds them of something happening in the world. They are your discussions-starters. Treasure them!
Share the WHY of connections
So when it’s time to teach connections to your students — don’t forget the all important why. Why do readers do this? Why do they bother connecting to a book?
Like diving for the ring at the bottom of the pool, it’s challenging and fun.
Plus, it makes you a participant. Not just the sunbather who never even dips a toe in the water.
The book comes alive when we let it seep into us. Into our experiences of the world so far.
More Active Reading Strategies You Might Like
Ready to learn other active reading strategies?
Now It’s Your Turn!
Tell us in the comments below:
- How do you connect your students to books?
- What were some of YOUR favorite childhood reads?
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