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Cultivating Critical Thinkers: Fostering Reading Reflection in Kids

A young reader recommended Roll With It by Jamie Sumner. When she spoke about the book, there was so much emotion. It was evident that the book had moved her at many levels and she had several takeaways which she is not likely to forget.



The cover page led me to think that this book was about a child who is confined to the wheel chair for some reason. The blurb behind gives little detail except for praise, but that's for a good reason. This is a book that needs to be read with an open mind.


More importantly, the book gives ample room for reflection. There are instances which is impossible for an average individual to fathom how it would be like to be confined to a wheel chair. This is not imaginary fiction but based on real life experiences making this book as real as it gets. It made me as a reader ponder over the strength of the characters and the love that comes with family. The young reader who recommended the book, was absolutely moved and touched by the heartwarming story that the book had to offer. She shared her thoughts about the instances where she felt baffled at first and was relieved to read a resolution which inevitably made her ponder and register some very important takeaways. That experience of going through the highs and the lows has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions for me as a reader. I am reasonably certain that the young reader would have experienced the same.

Note: Although the book is based on a serious subject, it is not at all depressing. On the contrary it is an uplifting read suitable for 10+


To be able to share one's reading experience, one needs to ponder over it

This exercise paves the way for readers to observe a lot more than just the story itself. They ponder over the characters that resonated with them, the nuances in the plot, elements of suspense, applying literary devices taught in school and appreciating the resulting effect. Providing room for group discussions based on one's observations opens up new perspectives too. One of the young readers who just started out on Roald Dahl 's books, shared how she found it silly and illogical to read about events that aren't possible in reality. Instances such as a pelican being able to carry a man in its beak as in Giraffe, Pelly and Me or a girl with magic power in her fingers as in Magic Finger., made her rethink her choice of reading books by Roald Dahl! Her peers who are ardent fans of Roald Dahl's work went on the defensive and explained that being works of fiction, there is room for a little imagination for the purpose of entertainment. That was a new perspective and it helped her appreciate and enjoy Roald Dahl's work even more. (Also read, Exploring Books through Group Discussions)


A Rick Riordon fan on the group shared how delaying the entry of an important character in a scene resulted in tremendous suspense. A fan of the Lord of the Rings series shared how the author's decision to end each book with an abrupt ending always sent him running to the library to find the sequel. A reader drew a connection between Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Hector's experience in a more recently published book The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Rauf. Two books set in two different time periods, having totally different objectives but had a common element. Another reader who has just started out with the Harry Potter Series, shared how she feels sorry for Harry Potter, given all that he has been through and wishes that all turns out well for him eventually.


Making time to reflect on what one reads lends itself to amazing experiences that both young and old can cherish. Children when given the time and space to reflect upon their reading experiences are able to pick out interesting writing approaches, build connections between books they have read and even demonstrate a sense of empathy. Especially for young readers, such experiences help them grow into life long readers and more importantly more balanced individuals.


 

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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. Musings from the Young Writers' Club is an online magazine showcasing the work we do at the Young Writers' Club.


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