Social reading sessions are all about mutual support, sharing and encouragement in the learning process.
We meet online. We are all from different cities. Yet we manage to find a common ground. Be it books or a common interest or simply to have fun in each other's company.
Reading becoming a social experience
When children discuss books together, they learn different perspectives. In this process, children learn to listen, show support, think of how a problem in the story could be solved or if it is non-fiction piece they are reading, every one brings forth what they have read or heard about the matter. This makes the experience far more enriching that reading something alone.
Reading in groups enables children to modify the way they read aloud. Now that there is an audience listening, they need to read at a pace at which all can follow. They need to pause at the right places for effect. The article Reading is a social process elaborates further on how reading together can impart other social relationship skills such as not interpreting someone who is speaking and instead wait until the person finishes. Similarly acknowledging another participant's contribution before disagreeing or building a point of view based on that contribution leads to a web of learning making reading itself a far more enriching process.
When children get used to reading being a social activity, they begin to come forward to share their thoughts about something that they have independently read or heard to gather reactions from the group. This is something that we have witness often at the Young Readers' Club.
Sharing something that's been on one's mind
A grade 6 reader wanted to share how the world's sweetest apple isn't going to be produced anymore. He said it is on account of global warming. At first we thought, it was on account of rising temperatures that were making it less suitable for these trees to grow. We were wrong. He explained it is because bees are not able to thrive in the rising temperature conditions. "What's the connection between bees and apples?" asked one of the other readers. We started to explore the world of flowers and the role that bees play in the pollination process and the formation of the fruit that we later pluck and enjoy.
As scary as it sounds, global warming is happening. But, efforts are being made to combat and adapt to it. Is the pace fast enough? That's a question for which we may not have the right answer right away. Good news is we are aware and hence will be on the lookout for more information.
Sharing something that brought joy!
A grade 5 reader was asked to write a funny poem based on her favourite sport in school. She chose to write about basketball. The poem was well received in school with the whole class erupting in laughter. She wanted to try it out with her reading companions as well. She read it aloud. One of the readers asked is she could read it again as he thoroughly enjoyed listening to it the first time. She was overjoyed and read aloud with a lot more rigour the second time.
Sharing an idea that one has been toying with
Another 5th grader has been experimenting with writing a book inside a book. The book inside the book reveals a bit from the past and gives the characters in the present some clues about they could proceed further. "A book within a book?" asked another reader. "Wow! That sounds new and interesting!"
Sharing a satisfying reading experience
One of the 7th graders had just finished reading Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine D'Engle. He had also discovered that the author had been inspired by Einstein's Theory of Relativity and that was instrumental in creating this fantastic book. Another science enthusiast on the group needed to hear only that. The application to get a copy of the book went to his mother right after the session.
Having a difference of opinion and trying to convince one another
One of the greatest debates we have ever had was the debate between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fans. Both sides wanted to prove that their choice of fantasy fiction was better. In the process different aspects of both series came out in the open. The debate ended with the revelation that the Harry Potter fans hadn't tried reading Lord of the Rings and hence should read that series to form a well informed opinion.
Showing one another empathy and learning to resolve
Times when everyone is excited and has something to say, how does one decide who should go first? They came up with the idea of having a spin wheel to decide who should go first. If that isn't necessary as there are only two want to speak, the two of them would graciously allow the other person to speak. After a bit of "You go first", one would figure that the best way forward is to simple go ahead and say it first :).
Given a chance, children are able to come together so beautifully without any bias. True there are times when a difference of opinion gets heated and some amount of intervention is required but these are rare instances.
Is your child looking for a more social reading experience? Young Readers' Club awaits you.
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Both weekday and weekend batches are available at the Young Readers' Club. While this program is for the 8-12 age group, the Young Writers' Club program for the 13-15 age group offers a weekly platform to read and discuss curated articles from the news, observe writing approaches and practise one's writing skills.
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