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Presenting books can be a fun experiment that involves everyone

Lithuanian schools are trying to come up with various strategies to encourage students to read: during lessons and breaks, to create conditions for reading favorite books, to invite parents or grandparents to read tales to children aloud, to cooperate with older students to read to younger ones. Laura Pavalkytė, a teacher of Lithuanian language and literature at Erudito licėjus, shares another way that helps encourage students to read.

Slides are replaced by illustrations and plays

It is said that when you discover something good, you want to share it with those around you. This is what Erudito licėjus promotes. Teacher advises to organize book presentations periodically, which do not always have to be the same and boring, when everyone is forced to listen to one student’s monologue – very interesting forms of presentation can be found and most students enjoy this task and prepare for it responsibly. “In order to avoid slides currently used in almost every subject, I use forms of presentation in literature lessons that require different student abilities – to illustrate a book or create an intriguing comic and to explain in your public speech why you choose such a drawing and colours; to play an excerpt from a book; to write a poem or a song that tells the story of a book or reflects its mood,” L. Pavalkytė shares her experience. Such a wide selection enables students to unleash their creativity, independence and develop a sense of responsibility.

Teamwork can evoke a real spectrum of emotions

Often students are encouraged to choose one book that would be read by the whole class. In this case, children, divided into teams, later make posters to illustrate the book, so that the qualities of community and respect are not forgotten. “It simply came to our notice then. Students can write a letter to a chosen character in the book, suggesting that they change their behavior or create an interview with a favorite character in the role of a journalist, thus improving not only their reading but also their writing skills. Critical thinking is developed by drawing maps of thinking: a sequence map is suitable for the younger ones, when the most important events need to be conveyed consistently and the most significant ones can be chosen, the older ones can reveal their point of view in cause and effect, double thinking maps,” says Erudito licėjus teacher.

L. Pavalkytė notices that students like to choose the so-called advertising method, when a short video tells why they would recommend that book to a friend and it is necessary to persuade them to read it in a limited time. Understandably, each child interprets history of the book, characters differently, and can experience a wide range of emotions. Younger children develop a strong personal connection with the book characters, so they are invited to play a story. According to a teacher at Erudito licėjus, “this way of presenting in a classroom causes a real storm of emotions, and in a classroom that is usually noisy when presentations are concentrated, everyone closely observes the classmates’ presentations.”

(Positive) pandemic changes

Pandemic that hit the world a few years ago stopped real presentations and we had to look for alternatives. According to teacher, it wasn’t difficult – students were asked to record the presentation in advance and send it. Working remotely also recalled a method previously used in the classroom – a presentation involving more active integration of subjects – to create illustrations for books in cardboard boxes. “This time, children were asked to create a” mystery box “of a book, placing items in their homes related to the story in the book in one way or another, writing new, unknown words and the main idea on the cards,” says Erudito licėjus teacher L. Pavalkytė. According to her, although several students were reading the same book, items in boxes were different, depending on the reader’s point of view, which is the most important thing in that story.

Book has had strong competitors all the time. With the invention of television and other smart technologies, reading books has been relegated to the background and lost its charm. Book lovers are slowly realizing why our grandparents and parents struggled so much with television – it’s hard to get away from the screens this time around, and when you get a book in your hands, you often get a negative reaction. Therefore, according to a Lithuanian language teacher at Erudito licėjus, it is important to tell children about the benefits of reading and to look for new, interactive, interesting and engaging ways to present books. Seeing classmates presenting books in an interesting way gives children an example, motivates them to read, takes more interest in books they read, exchanges them, and tests emotional intelligence, imagination, creativity, critical thinking and language.