Questions Lead to Lifelong Learning

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In my last blog I wrote about the wonderful choices available to children in the diversity of nonfiction books. It was an effort to encourage parents and teachers to extend book choices for children by opening windows into the complexities of the real world.

Each book we read with children contains sparks that can ignite their imaginations, energizing a hunger for learning more. Story books provide children with insights into how characters relate with each other within imaginative plots, inviting memorable family and class conversations, like “Did that ever happen to you?” and “What would you do if you were them?” Discussions about stories can help to sharpen children’s questioning about personal character, humanity, relationships, courage and self determination.

On the other hand, informational books create a mental playground for real-world inquiry and investigation. They are designed first to answer author-anticipated questions that children might have about the subject at hand, and also to provide a launch pad for readers asking unique questions when the answers are not necessarily readily available. Reading factual books can initiate a child’s exploration of pretty much anything. For example, books about history, earth sciences, math, the social sciences and technology provide starting places where children can learn how to articulate their questions. Shared wonderings and speculations can then open doors to the development of their independent reasoning abilities and enable them to delightedly embrace their personal unknowns.  

Such curiosities hatch questions that may spur children to put that particular book down and launch new inquiries. Embracing their inquisitiveness, adults can lead kids to develop their resourcefulness. to explore their wonderings about the mysteries that bubble up in their minds as they encounter new places, things, events and ideas while reading. 

Reading a story together and having a conversation about its characters and events is a delight. Reading about reality can lead to explorations that can last hours, days, maybe even a lifetime.

Answers to nonfiction questions often generate more questions which can lead to many learning resources, such as school teachers’ individual expertise, local public and school library collections (and their librarians), community businesses, zoos, museums, airports–you get the idea. In the process, adults can show a child how to communicate with busy experts for a quick discussion on the topic in question. Most are almost always delighted to answer children’s questions about their backgrounds and their work.

Exploring the possibilities for obtaining answers to their own questions about the world helps children form a foundation for lifelong learning. Within those conversations, children quicken their steps onto a path forward to access the ongoing developments of virtually any kid-stimulating frontier. THAT can lead to children discovering the exhilaration of self-directed inquiry–and naturally to enjoying even more terrific books!

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