Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reading Maps- Is Fun and a Skill

Yesterday, Mama J and Little Moon and I went down the street to pick up two of their neighbors! We were headed to Deception Pass. We picked up M, a 7th grader and R, a fifth grader. Mama J works with M at the Middle School in town. She works with kids whose parent are Migrant Workers- mostly Mixteco families from Oaxaca Mexico. During the school year M is a typical 7th grader- but in the summer she will join the family in the fields of WA to pick fruit to help contribute to income of her family.

As we started the drive into the mountains- Mama J said to the girls in the backseat- "I am going to need help on the drive and want you to follow along in the atlas where we are going. That way you know where we are and where we are headed. You will also be able to tell others where you went and if you want to come back you will have a sense of how to get here."

M said, "But I don't know how to read a map."
Mama J, "That's why we will practice! It will be fun!"

What a great idea. Reading maps with kids, as we drive in our cars, take our trains and buses, let's them into a whole new world and terrain of reading. The whole drive to Deception Pass and home, M and R read the map and found all the highways, state parks, lakes, peaks and towns that we passed through! By the end we were giving each other quizzes to remember where we had been and where it was on the atlas!

Since I was in the "interviewing mode" I thought I would find out what was going on in their reading lives! "What do you guys like to read?"

M told me, "I like the Twilight Series. I also read the The Lightening Thief." We started swapping titles to test to see if the other had read it. R told me, "I don't like to read. It's too hard." Well that was the call! We all decided to try and find what kinds of books R would like! We headed to the bookstore to explore different options- authors, genres and topics!
We came away with two books, Grace Lin's new book, Where the Mountains Meet the Moon and Ann Martin's book, A Dog's Life.

When driving in the car ride home, I asked, "M, when did reading become something that you loved?" M responded, "After I read Twilight. I just loved it. And then I just wanted to read more. Before I didn't like reading like R. I didn't like what I had to read and I didn't know it could be so much fun. I am almost done with all the books. My sister is reading them too, in Spanish. I think after I finish my books, I might want to read R's books too!" Twilight, I thought, should win a medal for inspiring kids to read!

I asked R, "So what are you thinking now about reading?" R responded with a smile on her face, "I can't wait to read the one about China first! I think I am going to really like them." "Don't worry," said M, "I'll tell you how she does!" "I'm not worried," I said.

We dropped them back off to their home. Watched them run up the stairs to find their family! Traveling with books, maps and atlases are a great time to have and an important skill to develop as well. Using them on a short or a long trip to help navigate, orient you to your world, and hold onto memories to tell and explain to others, will help widen their reading world! Sharing reading with your neighbors and talking about your reading life and theirs can help widen your own literary family. Open your arms and see how far they can reach!

Happy travels and reading to you!

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