Posted by Vileena LaRonde-King, Reading Specialist on March 25 , 2021
Do you remember some of your favorite books? Why did you like them so much? Could it be that they brought you to tears, made you laugh, tug at your heartstrings, inspired you, left you in awe, triggered your anger, compelled you into action? Well-crafted words have the power to evoke strong emotions in readers and lead them to grow in empathy, sympathy, gratitude, compassion, caring, and connection. Utilizing the power of emotions to deepen reading experiences for children may not only make them better readers and better learners, but also better humans.
We connect, understand, and remember things much more deeply when our emotions are involved. This would explain why the poem of the inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, made such an impact on so many and may continue to do so for many years to come. Her words awakened a wide variety of emotions for a wide variety of people that will undoubtedly influence them in ways that she will never know. We vividly remember experiences that are emotionally charged which is why we remember the painful, fearful, exciting, joyful events of our lives even many years after they happen.
Recognizing this huge impact of our emotions, educational research suggests that we harness these innate qualities and encourage our students to monitor and name what they are feeling while they read. This will allow them to connect deeply with the text resulting in more meaningful interpretations, profound appreciation, and stronger retention. As students become more aware of the emotions they experience while reading, they can be easily led to identify and value the techniques that authors use in order to elicit emotions from their readers. Consequently, this approach to recognizing and analysing the author's craft--literary elements and devices--may motivate them to use these techniques in their own writing. Since effective reading and writing is at the heart of learning, strengthening these valuable skills will inevitably lead to better learning across all subject areas.
Over time, this emotional engagement with text and learning will evolve into what may be the most important of all. Students will understand and appreciate who they are becoming as they recognize what they are passionate about, what brings them joy, what they value, and what impact they would like to have on our world. It may fuel their curiosity and creativity. It may provide the purpose, the framework, and the motivation for learning. It may also guide them in making important decisions about their future that will benefit them and the rest of society.
Emotions are universal; they are precious gifts that allow us to connect with ourselves and with all people everywhere. They are the lifeblood of our humanity. Our feelings play an important role in our moral, social, and personal well-being, but equally vital is the role that they play in solving some of the complex problems that we face individually and collectively as humans. As research continues on this exciting and insightful approach to learning in all content areas, encouraging our students to feel as they read is a good place to start!
Parents, please use some of these generic questions with your children at home to support us in this worthwhile endeavor.
Can you identify the emotion(s) that the characters (protagonist, antagonist) are feeling?
For more information, feel free to contact Vileena LaRonde-King, Reading Specialist, VLaRondeKing@mcdonogh.org
Learning in the Middle focuses on all things Middle School at McDonogh--organization and structure, themes, instructional design, activities, visible teaching and learning, character development, joy in the everyday, and more! We highlight the challenges and brainstorm ways to meet them, and we celebrate the successes and share ideas for further development.