I was tutoring a middle grade student in reading comprehension.  It was our first session and I was trying to understand his barrier for comprehending what he read.

While he was explaining why he specifically didn’t like to read books adapted to movies, he stated he felt discouraged to have imagined what he read so differently from how the movie was produced.

On one hand, I can see how a younger person would look at movie producers as the authority of interpreting a written work.

But on the other, I understand how emphatically not true that is.

So I started to explain that any interpretation you have, based on text you read, is valid.

As I think about it further, it makes sense that a younger person, who is so entrenched with digital graphics and high definition communication, wouldn’t understand their thoughts and creations are just as valid as the artistry they consume.

During that session, it became apparent to me that building up a child’s confidence with reading is paramount. I don’t just mean make them feel confident enough to believe in their ability to decode and comprehend. The confidence must burrow deeper to the part of their brain that, not only comprehends what they read, but is willing to believe in their interpretation enough that they would defend it, pointing to text evidence where needed prove their point.

All readers need to know that their visualization of the story as they read is just as valid as anyone else’s. Don’t look to Hollywood movie producers as the end-all-be-all of novel interpretation. In fact, challenge yourself to see where the producers took more liberties than the book actually allows. Read the novel so closely that when you find blatant inconsistencies between the novel and film, you can confidently call it out.

My advice to readers:

Trust yourself, your comprehension skills and your imagination.

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