Do we collate data too much? Do we infer from observation too much? Do we believe we know what’s best for our young learners to read simply because we are the teachers? Answering the third question first – without going directly to the source – our students – then the answer is probably an unfortunate yes, making the other two answers a negative yes as well.
The following is an interview to get a 6 year-old’s opinion on Extensive Reading. The insight on the value of pictures and the power of their appeal and reading encouragement to young learners is soon apparent and is something educators should not undervalue nor underestimate, especially when selecting the right readers for their classroom library.
What’s your name?
How old are you?
Do you like to read?
Yes, a lot.
Do you know about Extensive Reading?
(Thinks for a second) What does that mean?
Do you play video games?
Sometimes. I like Minions.
Is that a race?
Yes. If you finish the first lap then you can do the second lap.
You mean you get extra time?
Your time is extended?
Hmm, extra yes. Oh! Extended means like extra?
Yes. Do you think extra means choice?
Hmm, yes. So Extensive Reading means… reading choice?
Basically. Do you like Extensive Reading?
What is the last book you read?
George’s Marvelous Medicine.
Why did you like it?
It’s funny, and I really liked the pictures, especially when Grandma got taller and thinner – and uglier!
Who gave you the book?
Alex (his uncle). He said it was his favourite book when he was little, so I really wanted to read it.
Did you read it by yourself?
No, with my Dad. And the pictures really helped me understand the words I didn’t know.
What other books do you like?
Do you like books that have characters with your name?
When do you read books?
With my Dad, at night. In bed before I go to sleep. George’s Marvelous Medicine took about a week. At night is my favourite time to read but I sometimes read after lunch. On the sofa. I don’t like reading in the morning so much.
How about reading on a computer?
I like reading stories both on computers and books.
What book are you reading now?
Fables from Africa.
Do you like it?
Yes, it’s about animals. I really like books about animals. And it has some good pictures.
Do you talk to your friends about books?
Not really. But I sometimes read to my sister. I point to the pictures when I read to her.
How old is she?
18 months. But I only try when she’s in a good mood.
How many books have you read in your life?
I have no idea about that.
You have 2 Curious George books that have 8 stories each, so 16 stories. How many times have you read those stories?
Why have you read the same stories so many times?
Because the pictures are so funny.
What other books do you read?
I speak Japanese too, so sometimes I read Japanese books, but not the ones with Kanji. I don’t know Kanji.
What do you like about Japanese books?
The stories are good. And I really like the pictures. They help me understand more. Oh, and I really like word search puzzles. It doesn’t feel like reading but I feel smarter after I do them.
Last question, do you have a favourite book?
I have four! Curious George (all), George’s Marvelous Medicine, Baby Animals, and Where the Wild Things Are – that one has great pictures!
Sorry, one more question. If a book doesn’t have pictures will you read it?
Yes…maybe…, but I will always choose the one that has pictures.
So George, I think you like Extensive Reading.