Fostering Text-to-Life Connections through Common Summertime Activities – Part I

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

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Making connections between a text and a reader’s life is an important part of reading comprehension. The more a young reader is encouraged to relate a book to their own experiences, the better they’ll be able to access prior knowledge, make predictions, infer cause and effect relationships, and synthesize meaning. And, the more readers practice making connections, the more natural this critical reading skill will become.

So, why not use summer to practice making authentic text-to-life connections? It’s easy. Just pick a book and read it before, during, or after an activity with a similar theme. Before you begin reading and during reading, ask prompting questions like:

  • “Have you ever done this?”
  • “What was your favorite part about _____(fill in experience)___?”
  • “How do you feel when you’re ___(with Grandma, at the beach, camping, etc.)___?”
  • “How do you think the character is feeling now? How would you feel in this situation?”
  • “What did we do next when we were ____(experience)__? What do you think the character is going to do next?”

To get you started, here’s a list of books that foster connections with typical family summertime activities, like picnics and beach trips.

Summertime Activity:

Visiting grandparents! 

The books that connect to the activity:

Just Grandma and Me (Little Critter series), by Mercer Mayer.

Little Critter and his grandma spend an adventurous day at the beach together! Grandma, Grandpa and Me is another good Little Critter connection opportunity; in this book, Little Critter spends a day on his grandparents’ farm.

The Baranstein Bears and the Week at Grandma’s by Jan and Stan Baranstein. 

Brother and Sister worry about spending a week at Gran and Gramp’s house. By the end of the visit they’ve learned a lot from their lively grandparents–and the older bears have discovered how wonderful it is to be grandparents.

Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith

Grandpa Green was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green’s great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten. 2012 Caldecott Honor winner.

Summertime Activity:

Going to the beach!

The books that connect to the activity:

Harry by the Sea, by Gene Zion.

Harry, our favorite dirty dog, takes a trip to the beach with his family. But, in true Harry fashion, he has a run-in with a large clump of seaweed that renders him unrecognizable by his family. Funny antics abound!

Curious George Goes to the Beach, by H. A. Rey

One hot summer day, George and the man with the yellow hat go to the beach. What fun George has at the beach! What fun he has feeding the seagulls! It’s fun, that is, until George must find a clever way to save the day.

Dolphins at Daybreak (Magic Treehouse Series), by Mary Pope Osborne. 

It’s sink or swim for Jack and Annie when the Magic Tree House whisks them off to the middle of the ocean. Luckily, they find a mini-submarine on a coral reef. Unluckily, they are about to meet a giant octopus and one very hungry shark. Will the dolphins save the day? Or are Jack and Annie doomed to be dinner?



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2 responses to “Fostering Text-to-Life Connections through Common Summertime Activities – Part I

  1. Jennifer Nuss

    Just going to the library is a way to make a huge impact on a students literacy life. Anytime you expose kids to books and talks about them, it makes connections that are so important in their little brains! :)

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