Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pretending Inspires Reading

When summer begins, my house is often the hub for the older kids in the neighborhood. Let me clarify that the "older kids' are the 9 and 10 year olds that my older sons hang with.  I am happy to be the hub because I want my kids to always feel like they can hang out at home.  
This past week my older boys began to enter into their dramatic play mode (they still love to pretend thanks to Harry Potter, Pokemon and Star Wars).  The boys had laid out their "wizarding toys" which include a book called Wizardology, wands, small containers they fill with sand and dirt for potions and a journal they use to write spells, make maps and list characters.  The boys were completely in character when one of their friends came over to play. ( A friend who often struggles with pretend play, reading and school in general.)  Knowing this, I reminded my oldest to be patient and guide but not force the pretend play ( he tends to be bossy).  The quick advice paid off and the boys were off in their land of wizards. They played for hours running outside to collect materials for spells, battling with their wands and just having fun.  The next day, the boy came back over. He asked not to play but to borrow the Wizardology book because he wanted to READ it!!  We were just as happy as could be to share something that felt like a toy but turned into authentic reading.  I can't help but reflect on a couple things after observing this situation...

Dramatic play is such an essential  part of child development and its implications are huge when we can weave in literature.  Matt Glover writes about dramatic play as an entry point for our youngest writers.  Even older readers and writers continue to enjoy and experiment.

Finding books kids want to read is half ( maybe more) the battle for reluctant readers.   

I will be anxious to talk to the neighbor about the book and the reading he did.  Did he use it to pretend on his own at home?  What did he find out? How did he use the book and how did he go about reading it?  (it is fiction but very much laid out similar to a non-fiction text).

I 'll let you know.


Cathy said...

That's so awesome!!!

Mary Lee said...

You are constantly learning while watching your boys play; Carol (Carol's Corner) is constantly learning while listening to audiobooks with her boys...remind me again about that joke where teachers get "three months OFF in the summer"????

Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin said...

A friend sent me a link to your post...and I'm happy she did. I appreciate the link you are making between pretending and reading. I am new to the blogging world (using it as a forum to protect and promote imaginative play). I like what you are doing and I'll be sure to stop by again.

Karen said...

Katie -- this is great stuff your guys do and that you encourage! Better yet, they "hooked" someone else into their pretend play.