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Learn All Year Long

Learn All Year Long

Learn All Year Long

Kids and teens should read and write even when they are out of school. Why is this so important?

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Explore Your Reading Self


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Explore Your Reading Self

Grades 9 – 12
Activity Time 90 minutes to two hours, not including time to reread a favorite book. (Can be done over different days.)
Publisher International Literacy Association

What You Need

Here's What To Do


What You Need

  • Library card

  • Computer with Internet access

  • Graphic Map online tool

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Here's What To Do

Before getting started, find some books you read as a child, either from your own collection or the library. If the teen you are working with is your son or daughter and you have saved some of his or her favorites gather these as well (include books that you read aloud if you have them). Also familiarize yourself with the Graphic Map, the online tool your teen will use to display a lifetime’s worth of reading.

1. Start by talking about your earliest memories of reading and invite your teen to do the same. Have the books you have collected handy, to share as part of the discussion.

2. Draw a picture of your earliest reading memory and have the teen draw one, too. Discuss your pictures.

3. How many books has your teen read over the years? Help your teen come up with a list that includes as many as possible. Include books assigned for school as well as pleasure reading. (Comic books count!) Include all books your teen can recall, not just the ones he or she liked.

Note: If the teen is having trouble thinking of any book titles, you might consider pausing the activity while the two of you take a trip to the library or bookstore. You can explore the children’s section together and try to find previously read books. You might also get help from your local librarian.

4. Ask the teen to think about a favorite activity other than reading. Draw a picture of that alternate activity.

5. Introduce the idea of the Graphic Map and show your teen the online tool. The teen will use the tool to graph his or her reading history.

6. To create a map, your teen should first title the map and list his or her name as the author. When asked which items will be listed in the map, choose “Other” and enter “Grade” as the item description. This field will be used to record which grade the teen was in when he or she read each book.

7. The map tool will ask your teen to choose a rating scale. The smiley faces are fun, but encourage your teen to pick the number scale. It allows for a wider range of possible ratings (six levels), so the map will be able to show more highs and lows—like a jagged stock market chart.

8. Have your teen organize the booklist from oldest to books read most recently.

9. Have your teen make the first entry in the Graphic Map. Enter grade level in “Grade.” Enter the book title in the “Topic” field. Use the “Description” field to say what the teen liked or disliked about the book and the experience of reading it. For instance, your teen might fondly remember Go Dog Go! because of the silly pictures but remember less fondly a book read only because it was required summer reading.

10. The map also allows teens to associate a picture with each entry. If your teen can find images that relate to the books, it will make the map more visually interesting.

11. When finished, print out the map. Discuss it together and note what it says about your teen’s reading life so far. What does it say about your teen as a reader? When did your teen have the most positive feelings about reading? When did negative feelings first crop up? Which enjoyable aspects of reading could your teen rediscover?

12. Ask your teen to use the map to choose one of those books to read again. If necessary, go to the library to get a copy of the book.

13. Give your teen some ideas to think about while rereading. How much can the teen remember about the original reading of this book?

  • Where were you when you read the book? (What were the colors of the room, the sounds, the smells? Why were you there?)

  • What was happening in your life at the time? (Were you away from home? Were there any family troubles? Was there a significant event in your life or the world?)

  • What did the book look and feel like? (This description might include the cover of the book, the author, the pictures or characters, the basic plot, and the texture or scent of the book.)

  • What did you notice about the story or characters that you didn’t notice last time?

  • Why do you think this book came to mind to reread?
14. After rereading the book, ask the teen to choose a fun way of expressing thoughts and memories about this book. The project could be a poem, a song, a poster, or a video. As an alternative, ask the teen to identify a friend or relative who would most appreciate this book. To whom could this book be introduced? Could some or all of this book be read to a younger brother or sister? Might this book be put in the mail to a special friend or relative? If so, be sure to have your teen enclose a note explaining what’s great about this book and why it is being passed on.

Visit the Graphic Map page for more information about this tool.

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