… “That’s just one of lots of books about elephants. Would you like to see some other books about elephant babies and families, how smart they are and other stuff like that?”
With that kind of coaching along with ongoing casual conversation about what kids find fascinating, parents and teachers just might see the glimmering spark for the internal fire that can initiate a child’s lifelong learning.
If we discover that small children are interested in something, anything really, that even makes them ripe for supportive input from adults or older siblings: “Hey, do you know there are lots of fun books about this?”
A group of books around a given topic of interest is commonly referred to as a “text set.” Text sets help children understand that there are a breadth of ideas and information books around pretty much any given topic, activity, event or idea. A set’s focus can be as broad as “family life” or as narrow as “kittens.” Each child will each have their own personal interests and curiosities that get magnified when they realize that the number of books on topics they love is virtually unlimited.
Text sets invite children to engage with books selected for them, or with a collection of their own choosing. Collecting books strengthens children’s agency in their own educations and in the totally personal nature of their budding individual reading lives. That alone would be reason enough to initiate the idea of creating small book collections–personalized text sets.
Additionally, a text and TOY set can be a way to help little ones begin to sense how books and the other things they love belong together in their family reading cultures. Thus, they can begin thinking in ways that can lead them to perceive the broader organization of information and ideas in the world, initiating the use of categories and what fits into what groupings. The concreteness of an added toy or two and the broad conceptual possibilities found in related books can blend together to become a personal and memorable play experience for a small child.
All of this echoes the value of having a growing collection of books in the home as a springboard to school (and life!) success. As data shared in last week’s blog indicate: children from homes with 100+ books, who choose to read for personal enjoyment every day from their early years, are nearly twice as likely as their book-less or non-reading peers to become future proficient readers.
With just a little help, kids can take charge of their learning.