Thursday, December 16, 2010

Brother Bear

Brother Bear is not an eager reader. He'll read what I assign him, and he won't complain, but he won't read any more than he has to. Other than occasionally guessing at a word rather than sounding it out, (if it has more than four letters, it must be "too hard" so why try?) he decodes the words competently. Once he started reading silently (his reading is painfully slow to listen to) I would ask him what the day's reading was about when he finished. For short stories, read in a single sitting, he could name the characters and tell me or two things that happened, but couldn't pick out the main points. He seemed completely unable to tell what was important to the story and what wasn't.

When he started chapter books, it got worse. He could read a ten page chapter, and when I asked what happened, he would answer something like, "They had dinner."

"Who had dinner?"
"The people in the book."
"What did they have for dinner?"
"I don't know. It didn't say."
"Did anything else happen in the chapter?"

I simply could not pull any more detail out of him. But it wasn't his fault. The fact that he read ten pages and absorbed nothing but the information that dinner had been eaten had to be because the book was boring. It couldn't possibly be that he had missed something.

Last week, after he finished a chapter, I asked what had happened. He pulled out one spectacularly dull detail. "Did anything else happen?" I asked.

He wrinkled his face in annoyance. "Yes. This author likes to put in a lot more details."

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Blogger Liz Ditz said...

Hi there--BB may be having trouble with fluency, which in turn will depress his comprehension. I suggest you read the short blog post from Gary Brannigan & Howard Margolies on how to increase reading fluency. They have several other posts on increasing comprehension.

Just reading more, silently, is necessary to increase fluency and comprehension, but isn't sufficient. More has to be done explicitly.

December 19, 2010 at 6:28 PM  

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