One of the best ways to strengthen reading comprehension is to connect ideas in the text. Readers connect in three main ways: Text to self, text to text and text to world…
● Text-to-self connection: Relate something from the book to your own life.
● Text-to-text connection: Relate the book to another book you’ve read.
● Text-to-world: Relate what you’ve read to something big. How does this message relate to real life? How is this text like something that is happening (or has happened) in the world?
Text-to-world connections are the hardest to make and take the most practice. To get the big ideas of the text, we must think about what we already know about the topic, and we often have to gather evidence to make inferences, and think deeply about how the ideas in the text relate to real life.
Here’s one simple way families can practice connecting the big ideas in a text to the real world. Read the news together!
- Find a newspaper article that interests you.
- Discuss what you already know about the topic.
- Read the article together. Talk about new vocabulary words and parts that are hard to understand.
- Make some connections. Start with the obvious. What is this article mostly about? Then consider the following: Who is involved? Which community does this information affect? Now dig a little deeper: What do you think the author really wants us to do/think/feel/understand? Do you think the author has a message that he or she isn’t stating? How will the events or information described in this article affect the community or the world?
Taking a few minutes to read and discuss the news together helps kids see how you make important connections between what you read and your real life. Making connections is a key skill when reading all types of fiction and nonfiction texts; but because the articles are short and the information is very obviously connected to our real lives, the newspaper is the perfect place to start practicing!
For more on connecting the big ideas, check out the following:
- Understanding the theme of a text is a way to make big connections. Finding THE MEssage: Grasping Themes in Literature from Scholastic has lots of examples of common themes in literature, and some great graphic organizers to help kids pull their thoughts together.
- And I love this idea from Laura Candler about making a paper chain to keep track of the connections made while reading. It would be fun to create one as a family. You can find a free printable explaining the activity, (and many more wonderful free printables), in her Teaching Resources Online File Cabinet. The Paper Chain Connections printable is the second freebie shown.