Sometimes being concise is a great virtue. We learn this skill in school when we learn to summarize. What is summarization? It is a retelling or restating, in as few words as possible, the essence of a text or experience. With a limitation of words, we often find that a summary becomes a more efficient manner of explanation. I’ve surely learned this first-hand being on social media and having to communicate something of value with very few words. But we need to be careful when we are teaching that summarization is not just about the regurgitation of information. We want the content to stick and also expand in the minds of our students.
A summary does not always have to be written. There are many other innovative ways we can use summarization skills. Children can present a summary orally, or even dramatically. When I was young, I used to love to do my book reports using puppets. Or how about writing a song to convey what was learned? A making a collage perhaps? When we summarize, research has shown, we retain information longer and also have a higher level of comprehension.
As you know, I tell stories in my Magic Library. I also encourage students to write their own stories by holding my annual Be-a-Famous Writer Contest . Recently, I had another fun idea: asking kids to watch one of my stories and present a short summary of it could be a wonderful classroom exercise to not only work on writing skills, but to continue to develop listening and comprehension skills.
I decided to create what I am calling Book Bits to provide teachers a fun resource for their students. These are my short summaries of some of my most popular stories on my Book Bits Playlist.
Ideas for your classrooms
- Watch a book bit summary and then watch the original story.
- Next, challenge your students to write or retell their own review of the story.
- What words would they use? How would they summarize the story?
- What was their favorite part of the story?
- Was there a memorable quote?
- Is there an image they can create that summarizes the story?