How to Go From Reading AT Children to Co-Creating Stories

Many adults who read to their children often end up reading at their children. This is of course better than not reading. I used to read AT children. What does this look like? Usually, it means that while the adult is reading to their child or while a teacher is reading to their students, some of the following variables exist:

  • The adult is in charge

  • The adult keeps the room quite so they can read and so the children can quietly listen

  • The adult chooses when questions are appropriate

  • The adult chooses when dialogue and input is most relevant

Over time, I have found the above approach to work only for auditory learners who happen to be either thoughtful or detailed personality types (see this past blog of mine on personality types), and even with those personality types, the above approach only works for a small period of time. Why?

Boredom sets in eventually when we  are not actively involved in at least co-creating our experiences, which impacts our framework of understanding.

So what is the solution? That is too simple a question. A better question is how many solutions exist? Many. Here is one.


This strategy involves taking an image without words, such as a picture book (there are many picture books which address more advanced learners such as the book Flotsam), and asking open ended questions. This leads to a conversation with an individual student or a group of students which can easily relate to:

  • What kinds of colors, objects, places, people, animals, etc. which are visible? (Concrete)

  • What kinds of things could be hidden in the image, in an imaginary image which could have preceded or come after the seen image? (Abstract)

Let’s play with this idea a bit.

  • With this image, you could ask, “What do you see?”

  • You’ll received all sorts of feedback as to what is seen and what could be hidden. With thoughtful questions, your students can begin to discuss what would happen next if this image were one still-image from a movie.

  • What could have happened before this image?

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With this image, one of many questions we could ask could be:

  • Where did the mouse and frog come from?

  • Where are they headed?

  • Why are they traveling together?

  • How long have they known each other?

  • Do they trust each other? Why?

As you can see, this can lead to the creation of original stories. You can of course teach your students anything you would normally want to teach them. The difference is that they are emotionally all-in, because they are the co-creators of the content. The are the storyteller and because of this they will care far more than for a story someone else created.

I’ll leave you with you three more images you could use. I wonder:

  • What kinds of questions would you ask?

  • What kinds of questions do you think your students would ask?

  • Will you share the kind of feedback you received from your students with me on Twitter? If you do, please use the hashtag #IgniteCuriosity and tag me @EnriqueHank



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