It’s difficult to overstate the importance of reading comprehension — after all, it's what determines if your child truly understands (and enjoys) what they’re reading and learning. One simple way to promote reading comprehension: Get your child talking about the books they read at home!
You don’t have to wait until they’re reading independently to do so. In fact, read-alouds also set a strong foundation for reading comprehension and plenty of opportunities for discussion.
“We can read to children at much higher levels than they may be able to read on their own,” says Pam Allyn, a literacy expert and Senior Vice President of Innovation & Development at Scholastic Education. “The read-aloud provides a scaffold to talk about theme, character, plot, and setting."
Many experts recommend continuing to read aloud with children even as they grow into graphic novels or chapter books. Allyn recommends these three discussion strategies to boost your child’s reading comprehension during stories.
1. Discuss: Don’t just read the story or comment on it — talk about it together! “It’s helpful to encourage conversation, because it helps readers deepen their understanding of the text,” says Allyn. Express your own thoughts as you’re reading and find out what your child thinks about the story, too.
2. Ask questions: Try to make them open-ended, rather than yes-or-no questions. For instance, you can ask your child what they’re wondering about at the moment, what they would do if they were in a certain character's shoes, or how a character might act differently if they lived in your town. Need more ideas? Check out these great story time questions.
3. Reflect: At the end of the story, encourage your child to think about what you’ve read together. “I might say, ‘Reflect on your favorite page and why that feels important to you now that you’ve heard the whole story,’” says Allyn.
Following these tips will make a big difference in how your child thinks about and understands a book.
“Strategies like these help enormously with reading comprehension because they invite kids to contribute their own unique ideas to a conversation, reinforcing how much their thoughts count,” says Allyn.
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