Interacting With Literature: Cause & Effect

Part of life is understanding the principles underlying events. Students can develop their thinking and reading skills by interacting with literature to understand cause and effect.

Simply stated, a cause is the reason behind an event or action. The result of the action is the effect. Cause and effect explains why something happened. For example, the window is broken {effect} because Tom kicked the ball through it {cause}.

To identify cause and effect:

  • Look for signpost words such as because, therefore, due to, as a result, etc.
  • Answer the question “how/why did this event/thing happen”?
  • Notice how a character reacts. Why does he/she react in this way?

There are many ways to explore cause and effect; for example:

  • Perform a science experiment and explain what happened and why.
  • Read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. For each event mentioned, explain why it happened.
  • Examine a historical event. Determine the reasons it happened.
  • Read a newspaper article about a current problem. Make a list of the causes and effects.
  • Find a cause-and-effect relationship in your current subject of interest.
  • Write a paper explaining a cause-and-effect relationship. Topics could include:
    • Practicing a skill improves performance.
    • Eating junk food makes people less healthy.
    • Putting out the right seed attracts interesting birds to the feeder.
    • Persecution in their homeland resulted in the Pilgrims’ sailing to America.
    • Audubon’s detailed studies of bird anatomy led to his renowned bird paintings.

The best way to explore cause and effect is by interacting with literature through narration. As your student narrates a recent reading, be ready to discuss the causes/effects.

Additional Resources

Cause and Effect Worksheets
Free downloads from K12 for introductory practice.

6 Ways to Get the Most from Literature-Based Studies

6 Ways to Get the Most from Literature-Based Studies
Ideas for helping your student interact with what he reads.

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