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I mean any book.

Subject matter.

If so, why is it suggested that parents read to infants? Do infants really ‘get’ the subject matter? Definitely not in the adult sense.

Knowledge.

Hmm…. Kind of yes. But again not in the adult sense.

From a book, over many many reading sessions, a child slowly realizes

-Print symbolizes language.
-Words symbolize objects and/or actions.
-Letters symbolize sounds.
-Thought process can be communicated either verbally or through print.
-Print holds knowledge.
-Print follows a certain pattern, some ground rules. For example, in many languages books are read from front to back, top to bottom, from left to right.
-It prepares them for an adult life where print is used to acquire/disseminate knowledge and to communicate ideas.
-Reading loudly to a child creates phonemic awareness and phonic awareness. This later leads to reading and writing development.

If a child can learn so much from a book created by another person, what can she learn from a book that she creates? Is it possible for a child who cannot read to make books?

In Montessori they have a wonderful work material called definition books. These books are approximately 3inch X 3inch, spiral bound, with about 5-8 pages, on subjects such as mammals, parts of the root, parts of the leaf etc, with simple illustrations on one side and a 2-3-sentence explanation on the other side. It is perfect for a young child to hold and use. A Montessori teacher uses these books in her classroom in various ways depending on the stage the child represents.

I am not going in to the philosophy and the exact use of these books in a Montessori classroom, but FYI, the progression roughly follows: reading the book to the child -> asking the child if she wants to make a book -> taking the child to challenging stages depending on the child’s fine motor control+ability to focus+ periods of concentration+child’s ability to come back to the same work and continue from where she left off -> finally helping the child to assemble her hard work in to a book that is a replica of the definition book on the work shelf.

Sometimes children do one book or at times half a book and move on. Some children do a few books till they get the fundamentals mastered. Chula being a specialist, has made all the definition books that are present in her classroom. After she did the first few books she declared that her goal is to create a library with her books that contain her own illustrations and handwriting. So we have about 21 of the books she made. The first book dates to the beginning of 2009 and the most recent book shows the date Feb 2010. As a result of these wonderful books, I now have the opportunity to look at her progress in writing.

The first book is devoid of any letters, she had just traced the pictures. The next stage, she had traced the definitions and I can see plainly that the she had done the tracing blindly driven by the challenge of following the cursive in the definition books. In the stage that followed she was able to read what she was writing and she shows control over the script. A recent time stamped book from this collection is a poem book. The title of the book is Caterpillar by Christina Rossetti. She has done a front cover, back cover, no tracing, but she has copied the poem and I was said (by her) that she has been working with her teachers on ‘POEMS’ and she made this book. The most recent book is a book on ‘FROOTS AND VECHTUBLS’. She said that she made observational drawings of the life sized fruits and vegetable models they have in their classroom and captioned it without any help. In this book the author and illustrator has presented to us belle peper, aplle, lemin, oringe, graip, sraberee :)

I am very much enjoying her progression from just doing the work given to the stage where she takes ownership of her work and creates. And to add to this Mieja has started to bring her books home. The first book on Animals of Antarctica was proudly presented on Feb4, 2010. She had traced a few Antarctic animals and her teacher captioned the animals for her. The third and the most recent book is a complete definition book on the ‘Parts of the leaf’, pictures, front and back cover and tracing of definition included. I can’t wait to see what this one has in store for us :)




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