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Map My Read: Creating Your Own Reading Road Map

Hey guys! Warning: this post is a legit tutorial on how to create a Reading Road Map. It's not super funny. Just saying. But it is going to change the way you and your kiddos (be they students or flesh and blood) interact with books. So don't give up, just grab some coffee and maybe a snack. Oh, and a notepad maybe? Or your glasses? Perhaps classical study music. Whatevs. Let's get started.

Last week I talked about the benefits of using a Reading Road Map. If you missed that post, you can check it out here. Or you can keep reading because I'll catch you up. I'm a sucker for a slacker.

A Reading Road Map is a tool that allows students to read a book independently while being guided by strategy-focused "stops." These "stops" - in the form of a question or statement - alert readers to important parts of the text to aid in comprehension. Essentially, using a Reading Road Map is like having a seasoned reader interacting with the student as she reads. It's amazing.

Today I want to talk about how you can create your own road map. Before I start, I will not-so-shamelessly plug my own online shop, also called Story Trekker, where I sell Reading Road Maps for award-winning books featuring diverse characters. There I said it. Visit sometime. But not yet.

Creating your own road map is as simple as reading a book, because that's really where it begins. As a teacher or parent, you simply start reading a book (preferably one geared to the age of the child you're trying to reach). In a notebook or with some sticky notes, jot down your reactions along with the page number that prompted the reaction.

While this is a simple act, it does take a little practice to become aware of your own interactions with text, something that you probably just take for granted.

But as you read through the book, notice when you do things like:

  • make a prediction about a character or event

  • picture a scene or character in your mind

  • ask a question about someone or something in the book

  • take a minute to summarize what's been going on in order to clarify your understanding

  • infer or "read between the lines" based on what's already been said or based on your own personal experience

  • connect what is happening in the text to your own life, something else you've read or watched, or something occurring in the real world (or in history)

Experienced readers naturally interact with books in this way. Emerging readers need a little practice or a little more guidance.

Once you've completed reading the book, look back over your reactions to the text. What reactions proved significant given the conclusion of the book? What reactions helped you better understand what was happening. What would an emerging reader need help cluing in on or miss on their own (for lack of skill or experience)? Highlight, circle, or put a cute little start next to those elements.

Take a look at what you starred. Break those down by section or chapter - a digestible chunk of reading for your audience. For example, if the book I'm reading is 10 chapters, I'll break the book down into five sections - two chapters each. From there, I'll come up with about 6-8 "stops" for each of the five sections. Of course, your stops may change based on the level and complexity of the book. Are you still with me?

From there, assemble the questions (in the form of a worksheet or other kind of note sheet) WITH THE PAGE NUMBERS. This is key, people. Kids can't pay attention to stuff if they don't know where to look for it. I typically list the page number first, so it gives the reader a heads-up, something is coming. Then I'll list the statement, along with its corresponding comprehension strategy (so that kids start to become familiar with what it looks and feels like to predict, summarize, infer, etc.) after the page number. Check it out in the image below.

Okay, so let's be honest. This takes some time. Seriously, that's why I can sell the stuff I make because the process takes time. But it's so worth it.

Once you create a Reading Road Map, keep it. Start building a collection of books for which you have Road Maps available. Consider these varied uses for this tool:

  • Use with a class novel and assigns chapters to read at home with support.

  • Use for lower-level readers who need extra support - even when you can't give it in person.

  • Use it for lit circles where you want to keep everyone on target.

  • Use it for over the summer; assign it prior to kids coming back to school OR parents, create one for your kid(s) to complete over the summer.

Whatever the purpose, the time and effort result in confident, independent readers learning to tackle text and make meaning on their own.

You did a great job sticking with me on this one! I hope you found something new, inspiring, or practical to incorporate into the amazing stuff you're already doing. Stay tuned for a couple books reviews and recommendations next week. See you then!

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