Monday, March 11, 2019

Reading Aloud with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory #1

EV and AA are now 9 and 7 years old respectively. They read independently, and it is very obvious that they love it. I love to see them sitting quietly by themselves as they immerse in the wonderful world of whatever book they are reading. And it’s nice to sit or lie next to them doing the same thing. 

Often, EV and AA will still ask me to read aloud to them. I seldom say no, unless it’s really way past their bedtime. I love having them next to me, hearing me try to dramatise the story to them. However, I do wonder: do I still need to read to them since they now can read independently?

Recently, I read an article that told me that my decision to continue reading to EV and AA was right - 'Want your kids’ vocab to improve? Read aloud to them'.

This was the part that caught my attention: “Children may continue to enjoy and benefit from being read to beyond the early years. You should keep reading with your children as long as they let you.

Which echoed my thoughts exactly. If EV and AA still want me to read to them, why would I want to stop this fantastic chance for us to bond and just enjoy stories together?

So I’m sticking to my decision of continuing to read aloud to them, to have this shared reading experience with them every night, for as long as they let me. At the same time, I can also use this shared reading time to have story-based discussions with them. I can also ask questions to nudge their understanding of the story content and also how the author uses language to bring across a point.

So I started with the classic story by Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The version I have is a very old one, which I bought pre-loved. As I read aloud to the kids, I would use different types of voices and intonation to try and bring the characters to life. I would try to use some action too where possible. It’s like putting on a one-person theatre show with only two audiences. Well, that’s not bad. At least, my ‘performance’ will always be flawless. :)


In between my ‘performance’, I might stop and ask questions to see if EV and AA understand the content, or what the writer is trying to convey. I think this is helpful in EV’s and AA’s language development, and I think, in the long run, better prepare them to answer comprehension questions in school.

What I will try to do is to share areas of discussion that I had with EV and AA, here on my blog. Feel free to use them in your shared reading experiences with your kids.

To start, I will begin with Chapters 1 to 5 of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Note: As I’m using a different version, the page numbers might be different.)

Chapter 1: Here Comes Charlie
Page 17 - Why was it ‘pure torture’ for Charlie to ‘see other children taking bars of creamy chocolate out of their pockets and munching them greedily’?
In the earlier paragraphs, Roald Dahl elaborated how poor Charlie’s family was, and described how much, or how little, the family had to eat each day because they could not afford to buy food. It was also highlighted that Charlie ‘went about from morning till night with a horrible empty feeling’ in his tummy. Hence, when Charlie saw other children who had easy access to chocolate, one of his favourite foods, and eating it in front of him, it was very distressing to him. Not only could he not eat chocolate as and when he liked, he also had to tolerate a hungry stomach all the time. The discussion could also veer to focus on the real world, and the plight of many different people around the world.

Page 17 - When Charlie receives a small chocolate bar on his birthday, why does he ‘treasure it as though it were a bar of solid gold’?
As Charlie only receives one bar of chocolate a year on his birthday, the chocolate was extremely precious to him, and he wanted it to last as long as possible. There can also be some discussion about the literary technique used here - simile. The way Charlie treated his bar of chocolate was being compared to how people would treat a bar of gold.

Chapter 2: Mr Willy Wonka’s Factory
Page 19 - Charlie’s grandparents are described to be ‘as shrivelled as prunes’ and ‘as bony as skeletons’. What does this tell you about his grandparents’ physical appearance?
His grandparents’ skin are extremely wrinkled and they are also very thin. The literary technique of simile was used to compare his grandparents’ physical appearance with that of shrivelled prunes and skeletons.

Chapter 4: The Secret Workers
Page 29 - What was ‘one of the great mysteries of the chocolate-making world’?
The mystery is who Willy Wonka engaged as employees to run his factory and produce chocolates and sweets. In the earlier part of this dialogue between Charlie and Grandpa Joe, Grandpa Joe mentioned that nobody knows who Mr Wonka is using. So the great mystery that Grandpa Joe is referring to can be referenced to this.

So there.. Some ideas for your discussions as you read aloud Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with your kids. Hope this helps!

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