Reading fluently is important, but as children learn to read independently, a big goal towards buildling their literacy skills is being able to explain what's going on in a story.
One of the strategies independent readers use in reading comprehension is making movies in our minds. You probably do this while you're reading without even realizing it, because as an adult you've had ample time to develop the technique.
Just think — every time to you go to a movie based on a book you've read, and say to yourself, “That’s not how I pictured him!” (or the opposite), is proof you're making movies in your mind as you read. You imagine characters and scenes, and create a visual representation of what you are reading. This means you understand what the author's message is, and can make a connection between this message and your own life.
These are lofty goals for emergent or brand new readers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lay the foundation. One of my favorite activities to help younger readers achieve this is an activity I call, "Read and Draw." It's so incredibly simple — you can even try it tonight!
Targetted Ages for Read and Draw
- 4-8 Year Olds
What You'll Need
- a picture book
- colored pencils
What to Do
Step 1: Explain to your child that you'll read a picture book out loud, and that she should draw what she imagines as you read. Your child doesn't need to draw all the action — she can choose to draw one detailed picture or a series of simple pictures of the story. The goal here is to get her to create mental pictures about the text she's hearing. This is the next step towards her creating mental pictures when she reads by herself later.
Step 2: Once you've finished reading, have your child walk you through her drawings and tell you about them. This sneaks in some retelling (another super important literacy skill) into the activity. Don't worry about what the pictures look like — this isn’t art class! Make sure your child understand this too.
That’s it! Easy right? My six-year-old daughter loves doing this activity at bedtime. She sits on her floor and draws as I read to her. She has no idea that what we're doing is helping her develop greater reading skills — all she knows is how much fun she's having hearing and illustrating a story!
If your child isn’t into drawing, try flipping the roles and have your child read while you draw, then discuss the pictures you've made. This will still help teach your child that as you read you make pictures in your mind about the text.
Does your child have any activities they like doing to visualize books? Share them with us on Scholastic Parents Facebook page!