Did you know that being able to make connections between your experiences also translates as one of the most important reading skills? Most people make connections all the time without realizing it. Perhaps you remember an actor from a show and now they are in a movie. Or, when you’re watching or reading something you notice the main character shares the same temperament as you do. The ability to make connections makes up a large part of how we learn and retain new things. As early as preschool, children can make connections between books and their world. One of the reasons it is important that children have diverse and valuable life experiences like vacations and different sports is because more experiences mean more opportunities to make connections with what they read.
There are 3 types of connection making in early literacy that certified teachers reinforce during reading instruction: text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world. Read on to understand more about how each type of connection can promote children’s engagement with books and extend their comprehension of the stories they experience.
Many preschool children find text-to-self connections without even realizing it, whenever a topic comes up. They may hear you talk about a visit to the doctor or see the cover of a book they’re about to hear that has a fish on it. Excitedly, they say “ Oh! I remember when we went to the doctor and I had to get a shot!”. Or “My dad takes me fishing at the park!”. Automatically, they have made text-to-self connections. These types of connections help up to relate to the story on a personal level and motivate us to read to see how true to our experiences the story may be. Also, it makes children more likely to understand harder vocabulary words when they have had real life experiences about the topic of the book they are about to listen to. Text-to-self connections can be anything the child personally has experience with that shows up in their reading work. Any opportunity to share their input is motivating to young children.
To understand this connection type better, one must know that a text doesn’t have to be a written piece. Videos, TV shows, movies, posters, games–can all be considered texts to examine with your “reading glasses” on. Children can learn to notice plot details and retell them from a book or from their favorite youtuber. They might practice the Itsy Bitsy Spider poem with hand motions in your class, but watch Charlotte’s Web at home and make the connection.
Perhaps they just heard a read aloud of the Three Little Pigs at school today, and tomorrow they will hear another version of the story in order to compare them. Drawing on their prior knowledge, the experience they have with text can be deepened and more enjoyable. Kids Academy can help with quality lessons about making connections! Click the “Itsy Bitsy Spider and me worksheet below!
Text-to-world connections can best be described as relating what one has read to common knowledge they’ve picked up along the way. For example, If a preschool-aged child attended a parade or festival in their community, they can understand more about a book that illustrates those things and includes them in the plot. Another example of this is that generally, children understand that babies cry a lot–but not because they have had to learn that through a text. Its just general knowledge they have been able to acquire along the way in daily life experience.
Text-to-world connections can also be broader, such as relating a book to current events in the news. These types of connection may take some time to develop. Make sure to model what you’re thinking out loud as you read, so that children can pick up on how to relate texts to the world around them.