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"A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must lay it down and commence living on its hint … what I began reading I must finish by acting."

– Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), American author, poet, philosopher, and historian

Although comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, extending themselves beyond the story is what will propel certain readers to new levels of learning. Acquiring knowledge through the written word gives readers academic (and eventually career-related) advantages, but those who take that new information and apply some part of themselves to create new ideas will advance beyond the rest. It is those individuals who form new perspectives (and take action upon them) who are the innovators, leaders, discoverers, and entrepreneurs in the world today.

There's no doubt about it; there are a multitude of literary masterpieces for all ages. A truly superior story is one that moves us on the inside and encourages us think at a deeper level. New and experienced readers have the ability to "move beyond the text" to think of new ways to do things differently, solve problems, or try a new experience. The book that inspires one may have no effect on another. The key is to continually encourage our readers to seek new material and pay attention to those that strike a chord within them.

I remember reading about Helen Keller when I was young girl. The details of her perseverance to succeed despite her sensory challenges had a deep, emotional effect on me. I am convinced to this day that the unwavering dedication of Helen's teacher – Annie Sullivan – is what inspired me to teach and have so much patience with those who struggle with their learning. I can't help but wonder just how many of my life decisions and actions have been influenced by what I have read.

Story Extensions are activities that encourage children to process the information they have read and comprehended, and then take it one step further by applying it to some aspect of their lives. A few sample activities are: Letter Writing, hosting a Debate, creating a Time Capsule, and providing Advanced Learning Opportunities. Encouraging our children to make positive decisions in their lives is a goal all parents and teachers have. If we select quality literature for our children to read, and then gently guide them to think about how they can use this new information, we will be inspiring a new generation of thinkers and doers.


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