3rd April Selective School Preparation-Books Guaranteed to Challenge your Child

Summary Keywords

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Steve Xu


a selective student reading a book while sitting on the floor
Steve Xu 00:13

Hey guys, and welcome to tonight’s webinar. So tonight we’re going to talk about reading, right? You know, yesterday, I put up in the Facebook group, you know, who wants a reading list, and I was so shocked to find that there were so many parents who, you know, wanting book recommendations, you know, scouring the internet for different books, and, you know, things of that nature. And so, you know, it honestly really surprised me. So I hope that, you know, my insights tonight will help you. So immediately, if you guys just want the book list, and just leave the video, that’s fine. The book list is in the description, right. So if you guys go to the description, that is going to be where you find the book list, right. So I’ve got a link to a book list on our website, it’ll be in a Google Doc, and obviously, go through the books and talk about which ones you should start with and which ones you should probably progress through and which ones is and which ones are more difficult. So I would probably recommend to stay tuned, and, you know, watch all of this video before you kind of leave. But obviously, you guys can do whatever you want to do. 

The main thing that I want to talk about today is not only the book list, but how to actually approach reading, right, because I know a lot of parents have this problem with their kids, where you know, your kids just hate reading, right? Your kids, you know, don’t want to read difficult books, you kids just want to read books, which obviously don’t challenge them. And every single time you try to encourage them to read complex books, or to read books, which are difficult. It’s like this battle, right? I know this, because when I was kid, my mom did the same with me, right? It was always a constant battle to get me to read, right. And I want to kind of give you guys my insight on that, and also provide a little bit of a solution. The other kind of, you know, problem that we deal with is a lot of parents asked me, you know, Steven, how do you go about reading to improve reading comprehension? Right. And so again, there’s a bit of a double edged sword there, which I want to address. And actually, you know, the fastest way to improve reading comprehension is not actually to read books, which I’ll mention in a little bit, because I know that’s a bit controversial, right, but there are all of these little intricacies and minut kind of, you know, things that you need to be aware of. 

Okay, so I think what we need to start from is the kind of common recommendation, the general recommendation that everyone follows, which is reading books will improve your English. Now, I want to kind of take that, you know, kind of common notion, and kind of tease it around a little bit, right, like, go over some of the kind of some of the problems with that, but very, very big general advice. And also talk about why that probably doesn’t work for 99% of you out there. So you guys have all heard teachers say, hey, you know, reading is going to increase your reading comprehension ability, reading is going to help your English reading is going to help this reading is gonna help that breathing is gonna help, whatever that’s like saying to a overweight person, that exercise will make you more fit. And I hope you guys understand the analogy that I’m trying to make, which is that your reading in itself is great, right? If you read properly, and you know how to do it with correct form, right, and you’re reading and you’re actually reading and your child is actually, you know, understanding everything that they read, of course, their English is going to improve, right? If they’re reading challenging texts, and they’re going through in the understanding every single word, they’re engaging with it, they’re excited, they’re curious, of course, they’re gonna learn, of course, their English is gonna improve. 

a student getting books to study for the selective test

The unfortunate thing for 99% of you who are either, you know, just borrowing books from a local library, and not really knowing which books to to read, is that most kids aren’t curious readers, most kids aren’t willing to push themselves in terms of the difficulty of books that they read, right. And so what happens is, you know, you know, these kids, obviously, you know, reading these books over and over again, or reading like simple books, or when they read difficult books, they’re just kind of skimming through it not understanding the vocab and not learning anything. So really, when you say that reading, increases your English ability or reading increases your writing ability, I can show you, many, many students who read a lot or claim to read a lot, who have terrible English abilities and who have terrible writing abilities. You’re not I mean, and the problem behind all of this becomes, is due to the fact that there was no feedback mechanism when you’re reading.

Steve Xu 04:31

So let me repeat that. Again. There was no feedback mechanism when you read what I mean by that. So when your child’s laying in bed, reading their book, you don’t really know how much they’ve understood. They never told if they interpreted something wrongly, right. And they just rate there was no feedback mechanism. There was no timing, there was no accuracy. There is no feedback for them to understand whether or not they’re they’ve read correctly, whether or not they actually understand the passage whether or not they actually understood And the author’s intention and all those things. And oftentimes kids know this, right? So that’s, that’s why they’re like, You know what mom, I just want to read, right? And they just go off and they read the little book and you think that they’re actually building their English stability. And, you know, the unfortunate thing is a lot of parents, you know, come to me, and they’re like, you know, my child’s been reading you an hour a day, two hours a day, you know, they’re so excited every single time I read, I’m like, Yeah, because they’re not reading. If you’re actually reading, and you’re truly immersed in your reading, it’s not a relaxing feat. It requires you to think it requires you to engage, it requires you to actively Google words and figure out what words mean. 

If they’re lying in bed, that they haven’t even touched a piano, they haven’t touched a dictionary of the number one, the book they’re reading is too simple. Or number two, they’re not reading properly. And if they’re not reading properly, then they’re not reading at all. Which means that all the time that you spent apparently reading is wasted. Okay, so that’s kind of my general gist on it. So especially for the kids that I have, who are in the younger years, I don’t even start them on booklets. The reason why is because doing reading comprehension at least ensures that we know Okay, wait a second, this kid got this question wrong. This kid got this question wrong. There is an active feedback mechanism, you can see directly how long they’re spending on each question. And with those metrics, you can calculate, hey, wait a second, they’ve got a weakness in nonfiction, they’ve got a weakness in fiction, they’ve got a weakness here in there. Right? It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have to do, right? If I had my own kids, obviously, I’d spend, you know, five, six hours a day, three, four hours a day with them, make sure that they understood every single little detail, right, but unfortunately, most parents don’t have the time, nor the ability to read the same books that the kids are reading, ask them questions about, you know, intricate details, and be able to, you know, go through that process. So, in other words, in a way, unless you have, you know, very

pile of selective books with one book open on top
Steve Xu 06:53

intricate knowledge of the book, and you know the book very, very well, you’re not really going to be able to test your child on on the knowledge of the book, right, which means already, you’ve kind of failed step one, which is a feedback. And so what I would recommend is, if your child is currently weak, if they are currently getting like below 50%, in our diagnostic test, so they are getting below 50% in various areas, you need to understand that they need to do more reading comprehension now. Okay, they don’t need to read more. Okay, reading more for a kid who’s getting like 20% rate correction is not gonna help their reading at all. Because, again, if they can’t even do a reading convention, how are you going to, you know, read a proper book and understand the whole book, you know what I mean? So that’s kind of some contrarian advice. I know, that goes against what normal teachers say, and what you know, the general consensus is out there. But from my many years of experience, from my many years of teaching kids, this is what works, right. 

The second fallacy is that apparently, Reading helps you write better. Yeah, that’s true. Again, if you read everything properly, and if you memorize everything that you read, but the unfortunate thing is most kids just read, they might even understand what they read. But if you’re not memorizing what you read, if you’re not copying and adopting the author’s style of language use, right, if you’re not memorizing the key elements of description, the words, the exact phrases, if you’re not writing them down, and engaging with it actively your writing is never going to improve. Okay? So it’s like, I’ll give you as an example, right? If you did a scientific experiment, right? You had 10 kids, and you gave them Harry Potter, the Harry Potter book, and you ask them to read the whole Harry Potter book. And you’re like, you know what? RAID Hallett. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, read it. Don’t write anything, I’ll just read it. Right. And then you had another group of kids, let’s say, 10 kids, and you said, hey, you know what, all I want you to do is just copy out one page of Harry Potter, and then turn it into your own language, use whatever, use different tools on the internet, and turn it into your own language. Right? Who do you think’s gonna improve more in writing, the kid who wrote a read 200 pages of Harry Potter, or the kid who spent, you know, all the time on just one page of Harry Potter, going through it very carefully writing down every single phrase, and finding synonyms and writing it out and thinking about it engaging with it, obviously, the second kid, and yet most of them, it’s like, Not My Kid is improving in terms of their writing, you know, all they need to do is just read and they can improve. It’s not the case. Right? It is not the case at all. 

 There are very curious children there are there are very engaged children who read for hours who immerse themselves in language. But again, those kids all have very strong foundations in English, and writing from a very young age. Right. And that was also built up by the by the by the parents. All right. So if you’re currently in the below the 50% range, and you’re getting advice of hey, just read and as a parent, you’re not even like checking what they’re reading. And, you know, if they’re actually learning anything, it’s actually understanding what they read, then you’re just wasting your time. Like To be completely honest, you should just close this video and just do more reading intervention. Okay, that’s just my honest opinion. Unless you’re willing to spend the time to sit next to a child, read through every single page with them, test them out on every single little bit of D Tell them, they’re just wasting their time. Okay. 

a young selective student reading book inside his tent on the woods

The other thing that I want to talk about is reading habits, right? So when we talk about reading habits, it’s like, you know, if your child is sitting in bed, just reading, you know, aimlessly again, that’s not the best reading habit to adopt, right? Again, the best thing for children to do is obviously to sit at a desk, read properly and read the right books. And we’ll talk about the right books in a second. Now, the second question that I get from parents as well, Steven, I’m stuck in a conundrum because, you know, my kid wants to read all of these kinds of, you know, silly books, you know, Captain Underpants books, which are, you know, immature for aimed at a younger, younger target audience. But I want them to read these books that I saw on the Premier’s Reading Challenge list, these books are a lot more complex, but they refuse to read it. So what do I do? And so that’s a really good question. That’s a really, really good question.

Steve Xu 10:51

I know exactly how you feel, I understand exactly how you feel. And I know that this is definitely a pain that a lot of parents go through. Right? Now, the thing that you need to be aware of as a parent, is that you can’t force a child to read anything, okay, you cannot force children to read anything that they don’t want to read. That’s a really important concept for you guys to understand, you should never force a child to read something they don’t want to read, because again, they’re most likely not gonna understand what they read. So the key to this equation is not forcing them to read according to a book list, but help them develop an appreciation and help them become interested in what they read. Okay, now, this is going to be a big shift for a lot of parents, because then all our parents like, seven, give me the book list. And you guys will have the book list. And right now you guys can already go check out the book list, right, which is on the website, in the description. But the key is to find a topic of interest that your child is interested in, right, and to encourage them to read more along those lines, because kids will read what they’re interested in, right. 

So if your child is really interested in video games, obviously, if they start reading a lot about video games and video game programs, and how video games work, they’re going to be intrigued, because that is a subject of interest. And so the key word that I have for you is interest in passion, whatever they interested in, whatever they’re passionate in, that’s where you should start their reading journey. That’s where you should start their reading process. Okay. And I’ll kind of give you some examples of what’s worked really well for, you know, kids and students that I’ve had in my past, and you know, the exact categories that you should start with. So, the very first thing is that every child has a role model. Okay, so every child has a role model. You know, your child might have sports role models, they might have, you know, celebrity role models, they might have role models in terms of humanitarian role models, like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King.

student looking for book at a selective school library

 So when I was little, the thing that really got me into reading was reading autobiographies. Okay, reading biographies and reading autobiographies. Right. That was really, really important. Reading biographies and reading autobiographies. Okay. So that was the thing that really made me, you know, interested really got my got my excitement up, right. And that was really when I first fell in love with the whole reading process, right? Again, what I would recommend, if you’re a parent is that you should try to do the same with a child, you need to find out what they’re interested in, start with autobiography, start with the role models and see from there. Okay, wait a second, you know, there are all these biographies. Let them read it. See if the you know, the sign of an interest child interested child is when a child starts reading instead of playing games, right? That’s when you know, they’ve clung on to a good book. So instead of, you know, trying to find this generic list of books that you know, you know, are published online, really, you need to ask your child Hey, what are you interested in? You’re not I mean, I read biographies of you know, Malcolm X, I read biographies by you know, Arnold Schwarzenegger, I read biographies by all of these really famous people that I look up, looked up to, right. 

As the process that opened my world in two different issues, right, political issues, geographical issues, issues between different nations, right. And so once that opened up, because I started becoming interested in topics that were mentioned, then I would start doing even more research and reading even more. The other thing that I would say is a good way to get started reading, you know, things of the nonfiction text is through reading or read autobiographies, but also spending more time on Wikipedia, you know, and get your child to do you know, research projects. One thing that I really enjoyed doing when I was younger, when I was in Opportunity class school, was I really enjoyed doing research projects. You know what I mean? When I was in the four, year five, year six, you know, we’d be given these huge research projects. And as a result of just researching for these projects, and writing up these, you know, 3000 4000 word, you know, PowerPoint slides, and you know, the speeches, you would go through, and you’ll obviously need to read a lot. And the other thing about doing a research project is that you actually learn a lot through that process because you’re applying what you read. 

 Okay, that’s the most important thing you’re applying what you Read, you read things, and then you need to write stuff down, you read things and you need to write stuff down, which is the best kind of reading, the applied reading is what you want to do the non applied reading, which is just sitting, sitting back in a in a, you know, in an armchair, you know, just relaxing, doing absolutely nothing. That is not the type of reading that you want your child to do, right. So whatever form of reading that encourages your child to write about it, that’s what you should be doing. Right. And I’ll talk about different measures how you can measure how much your child’s loved and you know, how you can integrate the whole reading and writing process together. But like, a great example would be, you know, working on a research project, right, research projects are hard, you know what I mean, you can find any topic you want. So if you want to talk about the invention of the computer, awesome to do research project on that global warming, do a research project on that, you know, what some called? Things like electrical vehicles, autonomous, autonomous vehicles,

a pile of selective and oc books
Steve Xu 15:50

Ask them to do research, you’re not I mean, if you guys are interested, just comment down below research. And I’ll show you guys how to actually structure this so that you guys can do it yourself. So comment down below research, if you’re interested in this, what you need to realize is, you know, the medium of reading doesn’t really matter whether they’re reading nonfiction through books, or whether they’re reading it on the computer, it doesn’t really matter. In actual fact, it’s probably better to read nonfiction on the computer and apply it through a research task. Alright, so that’s also something that you need to understand. And more importantly, you need to make sure that you’re able to link the reading with the writing, because like I said, the writing is where they’re actually learning where they’re actually applying what they learn. And the writing is also where they’re like learning the new vocab and applying that because again, if they just write in passively, they’re not going to memorize anything. Okay. So that’s really important. Now, another thing that I wanted to talk about was, you know, in addition to kind of autobiographies and doing research projects, one other kind of thing that you guys can utilize, is, you know, reading the most iconic books of all time, and asking your child to read through SparkNotes Scott, so I’ll show you guys what I mean. What I’ll do right now is I’ll kind of switch into the desktop so that you guys can see. So for those of you don’t know already, if you go to the description, you will be able to see this, okay.

Steve Xu 17:17

So if you actually go to the scaly, training.com website, and then you just type in hashtag reading, you will be able to see this. And immediately at the very bottom, you’ll see a here it is document where which we’re going to go through right now. So you’ve just seen it, you just need to click on that. And that’ll get you to the book list. Now I’ll kind of go through the books. And I’ll kind of describe what you need to be aware of. Okay, so at the very top, I’ve started off with some books, some very, very general kind of autobiography biographical books, as well as some social psychology books, just so that kids will get curious and kids will become interested, right. So here I’ve got blink by Malcolm Gladwell, the tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. These are basically books which contain, you know, a collection of anecdotes and stories, which are very, very interesting, right. So, I think the best thing to do first is just to give them a little bit of this excerpt online, right? So if you just stop in blank, oh, sorry, blank, Malcolm Gladwell, you will get these, you’ll be able to find if you just type in PDF. 

Okay, here we go. You’ll be able to find out what I’m talking about. And so if you just start reading from the top, you’ll find that you know, you know the the Malcolm Gladwell series is really good at just encouraging kids to become interested in nonfiction texts, right. So have a read of this, I would recommend highly recommend having a read of this yourself first before giving it to your child. But what it’s gonna allow you to do is it’s gonna allow your child to become interested in a broad range of different topics. And then from there, there are other book recommendations that I can I can definitely give you that will help them just kind of read more and become more interested in reading nonfiction, because let’s face it, if they’re reading most nonfiction books, it’s quite boring, right? I don’t think anybody likes reading nonfiction. So these books will really, really help you, you know, improve in terms of your, your child’s learning. Okay. 

selective test tutor reading a book

The other thing that I want to mention is, I’ve put a couple of biographies here. So Elon Musk, by Ashley events is a very interesting book because again, it’s an autobiography that, you know, relates obviously one of the most iconic inventors of our day. I’ve included some other biographies like the Diary of Anne Frank sets really iconic, that’s very, very famous. You know, again, all of these biographies I’ve chosen because they somewhat relate to either very significant historical events. Right? And again, after reading, you know, the experience of these these people, then obviously The, you know, the kids will start becoming interested in those events, threats, that’s a really good way really good segue to get them interested in, you know, researching history and becoming mesmerized by that. Okay. So that’s what I would recommend. Start with Blink, the tipping point allies. These are really good books, Elon Musk, Ashley Vance, that’s also a really good book to read. And then after that, you should probably start with Diary of Anne Frank, you know, Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.

Steve Xu 20:26

That’s also really good book, just to develop your kind of interest in kind of these important historical events. Right. Now, that’s kind of the nonfiction section. Here, I’ve got some fictional books. So obviously, if they haven’t read the Harry Potter series, yet, they should probably read that as soon as possible. After Harry Potter, generally, The Hobbit by JRR, Tolkien is a good option. After that I would probably recommend Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Basically, all the books that I’ve listed out here are iconic, right? They’re famous because, you know, they deal with really kind of important themes like recurring themes, like for example, To Kill a Mockingbird deals with the theme of, you know, racism, discrimination, all that kind of stuff. Some of these books are well beyond the years, well beyond what you know what you’re expected to do at a selective school or opportunity class level. But nonetheless, I would still say that they’re quiet, you know, they’re quite good to read. The other thing that I mentioned is alongside these books, like To Kill a Mockingbird, or Lord of the Flies, are Of Mice and Men, like let’s say these three books, the best way to actually get them to understand it is to number one, ask them to read the SparkNotes version, right? 

So if you go online, and you type in SparkNotes, that’s a really good website where you can just learn about these books, right? So if you just type in SparkNotes, and you type in To Kill a Mockingbird, right, that will allow you to obviously learn a lot about To Kill a Mockingbird, obviously, you’ll you’ll be able to get get through the summary and analysis. And you’ll also be able to read the plot overview. After you’ve read through all of that, then you can go back to the text, and that’ll allow you to obviously understand the texts a lot better, right? So definitely recommend reading the summaries in conjunction with the books. Okay, read the summaries in conjunction with the books. Again, the books that I’ve listed out here To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, and later on even here, like Ellman you know, 1984 by George Orwell, Animal Farm by George Oh, these are books that you typically read later on in high school. Again, if you’ve got a really gifted child, you know, exposing them to these books will prove very fruitful. 

the library of a selective school

The other thing is, you obviously need to read these books alongside a study guide, which is going to be SparkNotes. Right? So if you guys can all just write down SparkNotes. That’s a very important website. And basically all these books you can find on SparkNotes, right. So if you type in 1984, SparkNotes, you’ll be able to find it. Again, you know, this is for like the top 1%. This is for kids who are going for you know, scholarships. If you’re just trying to get into a top 10 selective schools or opportunity class schools, you don’t really need these books at all. Okay, so, you know, don’t beat yourself up, if your child doesn’t understand any of these books, the you know, the last kind of I’d say, starting from To Kill a Mockingbird onwards, these are for, you know, really, really gifted kids, right. So just keep that in mind. If you want to just start writing these three books at the very beginning, the best to start with. Okay, so hopefully you guys will clear. Hopefully you guys all understand that. What we’re gonna do right now is I think we’ll switch back to the camera, and I’ll talk about, you know, how much did you read and, and how to actually go about balancing everything. Okay. So in terms of the actual reading time, obviously, the more the more you read, the better it is, right? But you also need to make sure that you’re being practical, right? So if you’ve got like, let’s say, for example, you’re currently in year four, and you’ve got the o sound like five months time, it’s probably too late to start reading, right. So

Steve Xu 23:58

what I would recommend is you need to prepare for the selective test or oc test. All right? If you’re in year six, year six, obviously, it’s too late. But like, let’s say even if you’re in term three of year five, it’s a little bit too late. Right? The perfect time for you to start reading is if you’re currently in you five, you can definitely encourage your child to read. But generally what I would say is, if you’re reading for the purposes of improving reading comprehension, understand that doing the reading comprehension by itself already get you to about 80 85%, which is going to be enough for any kind of top 10 selective schools or opportunity class schools anyway, okay, so it’s not like you need to read this to get into a top 10 selective schools or opportunity class schools if you don’t, right, reading is really to help you get that extra edge in writing, and really to give the extra edge when you’re interpreting really, really difficult passages that you’re going to get in the selective schools and opportunity class schools and scholarship exams and selective test and oc test. 

If you’re aiming for schools like Sydney Grammar, you’re going to get a scholarship like Newington, Shore school or any of the big private schools or you know Pymble ladies, then obviously you need to read but if you’re just saying for top 10 selective schools or opportunity class if you just want city boys and I’ll see you boys, you don’t need it really needed right If you’re not, I mean, you need to spend a little bit more time on doing actual real comprehension questions. The other thing that I want to say is that the Cambridge test is very much nonfiction based, which means that, again, reading is going to help you. But you still need to do the questions because the questions in Cambridge are very specific. They’re very much like close passage evaluation. And again, it’s better just to practice stone those passages rather than read. So reading is more getting you from 80 to 100%. Doing reading comprehension passages will get you from zero to 80. 

Okay, so hopefully, that clarifies everything, even like, you know, for me, I don’t go about doing novel studies for my younger children, because they’re not mature enough to actually understand anything. Okay, so I only start doing novel study with really bright kids at year five, and year, six levels. And then obviously, you seven onwards, we do only novel study, alright. But I see a lot of big coaching colleges, you know, do novel study with younger kids, and it’s just really a waste of time. What I mean by this is, I’ve done this in the past, and young kids, they’re either interested in the book, or they’re not interested in the book. And if you just study one book in front of like, you know, all these kids, you don’t know, if all the kids are going to be interested in that book or not. Right, you’re much better off just practicing writing arranged. So just be aware of that. I know, there are parents out there, we’re gonna say, Stephen, you know, my friend who’s an absolute God at English, you know, their kids, you know, they only read, they don’t do any reading comprehension. Again, that’s most likely a lie. Or number two, they’re really, really, really good at reading. Okay, that might be possible. But again, from what I can see, unless they’ve got a very, very strong foundation in reading already, it’s probably best to, you know, do something else. Right. So to supplement reading, arranging with reading, intelligence, fortunately, is wrote probably spent about two-thirds of your time on reading comprehension, and 1/3 of your time on reading

 Okay, that’s it for me today. Again, if you want to have a chat about any of this, like, you know, there are so many thoughts that I have on on all these different topics, if you want to reach me directly, the best way to do it is again, fill out the form and scholarlytraining.com, if you just go on scholarlytraining.com, you know, there’ll be a pop-up, you know, come up directly, you guys can obviously do the diagnostic test, if you want to get your your kids tested. If you want to know what the actual ability is, we have diagnostic tests for you three all the way to year five. And then we also have a writing diagnostic test as well. So we can give you feedback on you know what your child’s writing abilities like as well. If you want to have a chat about anything, feel free again, fill out the form, there’s no obligation at all fill out the form. I look forward to hearing from all of you. That’s it for me today. And I’ll see you guys all soon. By the way before I go. If you do have any questions, either number one reply to my emails, right. So if you’re not in my email list already, make sure that you join, right the easiest way to join that is again, fill out the form on www.scholarlytraining.com. And you’ll automatically be added to my email list. So whenever I come up with a new live webinar, you will see it you’re not I mean, I know Facebook and YouTube, you know, they’re very weird in terms of how they display all of these webinars. So sometimes you don’t get notified, right, even if you’re subscribed, or even if you’re in the group. So what I would recommend that join the email list because then you will have 100% get the email. And yeah, you’ll be sorted. So opt in. That’s it for me. Thanks, guys. And I’ll see you guys very soon. Bye.

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