Observing Young Children’s Responses to Literature

It is important for adults to know if children are responding favourably to a particular book. Following are some behaviours to watch for:

Physical
Young children are action-oriented. So their enjoyment of books is often expressed in a concrete manner. They will position themselves in close physical proximity to the book, pore over illustrations, hug the book, or move closer to the reader.

In every successful group story session, the children in my class often start out in a neat semi-circle, and end up clustered tightly around my chair by the end of it.

Attentional
When reading a book to a group of children, you can easily identify their look of rapt attention. They lean forward with a transfixed facial expression and often protest if the pages turn too quickly, or if they are not getting a good view of the book. You will also often find them chiming in at the appropriate moments if the book is predictable or repetitive. Sometimes, the children’s non-verbal responses will show that they are really listening, understanding the story, and being caught up in it.

Verbal
Young children often let us adults know that they enjoyed a story through words. Another verbal behaviour that reflects their appreciation is the incorporation of the storybook’s language into their vocabulary and play.

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