There’s nothing more encouraging than when your child loves reading and flies through books. But that begs the question: How do you keep them engaged in what they’re reading and challenged to keep learning?
Here are five top tips from teachers to help maintain your child’s reading momentum and bolster their development of important literacy skills.
1. Encourage your child to think beyond the story.
Theresa Rindt, a third-grade teacher in Illinois, suggests challenging your advanced reader by asking thought-provoking questions that require reflection beyond just the story’s plot.
“Examples of these questions might be: What did you learn from reading the text? How does the theme relate to the story? What was the author's purpose for writing this? If you were the character, what would you have done?” says Rindt.
These types of questions will help them practice thinking critically about a story, and also deepen their reading comprehension skills. (Here are more ways talking about books boosts reading comprehension.)
2. Keep reading alongside them.
The best time to ask your child those higher-level thinking questions is while sitting next to them during story time.
“Often, when children are advanced readers, parents stop reading aloud or reading along with them,” says Kelsey Parrasch, a fourth-grade teacher in New Jersey. “But reading together provides so many wonderful opportunities for growth.”
Reading aloud or along with your advanced reader gives you insight into areas where they are challenged and helps build their vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. After all, children can often listen to texts that are at a higher level than what they can currently read — and it’s extra helpful when you can explain more advanced concepts or vocabulary to them.
3. Encourage them to journal about what they read.
Exercises like writing an alternate ending to a book or writing the story from another character’s perspective are great ways to challenge your young reader. In doing so, you’ll help develop their understanding of perspective, point of view, and setting.
“Having advanced readers write about their reading is a great way for them to grow both as readers and as writers,” says Parrasch. “Advanced readers often know what great writing looks like because they read so often.”
4. Explore mystery books with them.
Shannon Langston, a fifth-grade language arts teacher in Ohio, encourages parents to embrace mysteries like The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson.
“Challenge your advanced reader by having them put on a detective hat and dive into a mystery,” says Langston. “Advanced readers will look closely at the details to try to solve the mystery before the story ends.”
This is a great exercise in paying close attention to a story’s intricacies and inferring what certain parts of a plot signify.
5. Use books to show your child new worlds.
Encouraging your child to read books about people and places different from what they may be familiar with is a great way to challenge readers and inspire powerful conversations. In fact, according to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 40 percent of kids want books that allow them to explore places and worlds they have never been to.
“Providing advanced readers with challenging books featuring characters from different countries, cultures, or environments not only helps these readers learn about our diverse world, but it also builds empathy,” says Langston.
For more tips on finding books at the right level for your child, visit our guide on reading levels for kids.
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