Occasionally, people have questioned me on the use of "3 Ways to Read a Book." They wonder how I can justify "reading the pictures" as real reading. They ask how retelling stories is helping children to learn to read. Upper grade teachers wonder about the value of reading pictures when their readers are engrossed in longer chapter books. I have always tried to justify this by saying that it makes all of my little friends feel like real readers. In reality, it is exactly what real readers do!
I inadvertantly put this theory to the test in a recent project I started at home. My lesson came when I decided to put together a small entertainment shelving unit. It stands roughly four feet tall, has two shelves, and one drawer. Before beginning, I thought it might take me an hour or two but that I was fully capable of putting it together myself. And then I started.
First, I read the directions that came in the box. I understood all of the words I was reading... with more than 99% accuracy! I knew all of the words in the directions, but it still wasn't making sense to me. I was trying to do what the directions were telling me to do, but I just didn't get it.
Next, I reread the sections I didn't understand. When that still didn't seem to help, I retold what I had read to my helper (thanks, Mom!) Explaining it to her seemed to help... a little. Between the two of us, we were able to read and reread our way through the first step.
Finally, I had the good sense to use the pictures. What a world of a difference! Between the picture of the finished product on the box and the step-by-step pictures in the directions, it all started to come together. While I was able to read everything on the page, I relied on the pictures to help me "see" what I was missing.
My quick little Sunday morning project turned into a 5 hour ordeal! I'm happy to report that the shelf remains sturdy and looks beautiful. This is a lesson that I will keep with me for a long time. It will help me explain to my students and colleagues the power of three ways to read a book. Now if I could just figure out how to hook up my TV...