Reading Tips

How To Think Deeply While Reading

In my opinion, the hardest part about teaching reading isn’t teaching students HOW to read, but rather, teaching students how to THINK while reading. Reading is most valuable if the reader can see past the words on the page and understand the deeper message the author is trying to teach them.

The idea of “deep thinking while reading” can seem vague, and honestly, it can be hard to gauge the progress of students in this area. But don’t worry! I am here to help. Here are four basic steps to guide students through the “think deep” process.

Develop an idea about a character or an event from a book.

To begin to think deeply about a book, students must first have an opinion about an event or a character. Often this idea is very basic and devoid of much detail. That is okay! We all need a starting point before we can grow our small ideas.

Give evidence from the book that supports the idea.

While it is okay to start with a small, basic idea, it is important that students can find evidence from the book to support their idea. Remember, students are ultimately looking for the deeper messages that author’s are trying to teach them. Because of this, the author will be leaving “clues” throughout the book to point to the bigger themes. It is important for students to be able to find this evidence to make sure their ideas are pointed in the right direction.

Decide what the idea and the evidence teach the reader about life.

The student’s idea, supported by evidence from the book, should teach a life lesson. Eventually, a reader who thinks deeply about what he is reading will be able to discover these deeper life lessons by finding evidence or “clues” that supports his idea. Often times, authors work to show the life lessons to the reader throughout the story rather than telling the reader. It’s the reader’s job to be the detective and find the deeper life lessons.

Conclude with a direct application to the reader’s life.

Life lessons are meant to be directly applied to one’s life. The final step in the “think deep” process is to make a personal connection from the author’s deeper meaning to the reader’s life.

Does this process still seem a bit vague? Take a look at two “think deep” examples below based on two excellent picture books.

Example: The Empty Pot

I think that Ping made a good choice.

I think this because Ping chooses to tell the king that his flower didn’t grow. Ping finds out that all of the seeds were boiled and unable to grow a flower, therefore Ping was the only child to arrive with an empty pot instead of a store-bought flower.

This tells me honesty is a hard choice, but it is often worth it.

Therefore, I can conclude that honesty is the best choice in my life, no matter how hard it is or if I’m the only one.

Example: Each Kindness

I think Chloe missed a chance to make a friend.

I think this because Chloe did not reach out to the new student, Maya, and make her feel welcome. Instead, she followed the other students and stayed away from Maya. One day, Maya didn’t return, and Chloe didn’t have a chance to be kind.

This tells me that when people don’t reach out and try to get to know each other while they are together, they could miss out on a great friendship.

Therefore, I can conclude that I need to show kindness to everyone while I have a chance, and I just might make an unexpected friend.

I hope these four basic steps will act as an easy guide to teaching your students how to take their initial ideas about a book and grow them into bigger ideas about lessons they can apply to their lives. This will take reading from fun to life changing!

Looking for an exciting and simple tool to support your “think deep” reading instruction? I want to help! With spring in mind, I created a reading tool called “Growing My Ideas About Books”!

This resource includes a potted flower that “grows” as your students’ ideas grow! Each writing box includes the same writing prompts that are bolded in the examples above. Your students will get excited about growing their ideas when they get to create this fun craft that illustrates their expanding thoughts.

Get your “Growing My Ideas About Books” resource here!

Check out the video below simple assembly instructions.

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