When you interact with books before, during, and after reading using quality literature that engages your child, they will learn one of the most important aspects of reading which is comprehension. When children understand what they are reading, it makes them want to read more! Creating a love of reading is the ultimate goal of learning how to read. Children who struggle to decode words and comprehend text will find reading laborious, difficult, and no fun. Help your child lay the foundation for learning how to read by following all of the blogs in my Teach Your Child to Read series and enjoy watching them become independent readers who love reading!
Reading Comprehension Strategies
When children are reading a book, it is so much more than just decoding words on a page. The more children interact with the books they read, the better their comprehension will be. When you read books together, use these reading comprehension strategies to help your child gain a deeper understanding of what they are reading and show them what it means to interact with books.
- Activate Prior Knowledge: Before reading the book, check to make sure your child knows about some of the main features of the book. For example if there was an elephant on the front cover, you could ask, “Have you ever seen an elephant before? Do you know where elephants live besides the zoo?”
- Making Predictions: Ask questions that get your child to think about what will happen next. This helps them to become engaged while reading the book to see if their prediction will be right or not. Do this before and during reading.
- What do you think will happen at the end of the book?
- Do you think the main character is going to learn a lesson?
- What do you think will happen next?
- Making Connections: Help your child become engaged with reading by making connections before, during, and after reading a book.
- Text to Self: “Has this ever happened to you? Can you think of a time when you _______ like the main character?”
- Text to Text: “Does this book remind you of another book? This author writes a lot of silly books, I wonder if this book will be silly too?”
- Text to World: “This book is about bullying. Why is bullying a bad thing? Do you know what being adopted means?”
- Story Elements: Talk to your child about the characters in the story, the setting, the sequence of events, the problem and the solution, and the lesson or moral learned at the end of the story.
- Monitor Understanding: While reading, ask questions to make sure your child is understanding what is going on. This will really help with their overall comprehension.
- Making Inferences: There are lots of things that are implied during reading that aren’t stated explicitly. By helping children to figure out how to “read between the lines“, they will be able to comprehend the true meaning of the text.
- Different Genres: First we have fiction (fake) and nonfiction (real). Talk to your child about the text features and how they are different between the two genres. Point out how they both have titles and title pages, nonfiction books will typically have a table of contents, glossary, index, and captions and chapter books will typically have a table of contents and chapter headings. Within the genre of fiction, you’ll find many subcategories that have typical features such as fairytales, realistic fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, and historical. Discuss what is predictable about each genre like how in fantasy books things can happen that wouldn’t happen in real life.
More Question Stems
One of my favorite things to do with the kids is to get huge piles of picture books from the library, cuddle up with children on my lap, and read. I love picking out books that are engaging and entertaining for all of us, and I really get into reading these books with expression. While I’m reading, I ask lots of questions that facilitate comprehension.
I like Bloom’s Taxonomy of Questions, because it provides good question stems that start out describing or listing and then progress to higher level thinking questions. When you start asking questions, you’ll ask a lot of yes or no questions or questions that can be answered in one word. But as your child’s development progresses, you’ll ask questions that provide for longer answers.
- “Let’s read the title.”
- “Can you tell me about what you see on the cover.”
- “Have you ever done that?”
- “What do you think is going to happen in this book?”
- “Can you think of a time when you ________?”
- “Does this remind of another book we’ve read?”
- “Why do you think _______ did that?”
- “What do you think is going to happen next?”
- “Do you think _______ will ever _______?”
- “Why do you think _______ did that?”
- “Why did that just happen?”
- “How do you think the story will end?”
- “What would you do in that situation?”
- “Can you tell me what the book was about?”
- “What was your favorite part?”
- “What lesson did _______ learn in this story?”
- “How did _______ change throughout the story?”
- “What was the main idea?”
- “Can you think of time when anything like this has happened to you?”
- “Does this remind you of another book or movie that you’ve seen?”
- “Would you like to read another book by this author?”
Build Your Library with These Books
In the previous blogs in this series, I have linked to my favorite books and resources that matched each category, these books that I’m suggesting now are examples of QUALITY LITERATURE that you can use to reinforce all of the skills they have learned so far. I have geared my recommendations here for young children ages 4-6 who are ready to take off with reading! Building your library with quality books will ensure that not only will your child learn how to read, but he or she will ENJOY reading! These are the books that our children have loved through and through that helped them become readers.
- *My First Reading Library – This is the best set of books you could ever buy! I have totally used all of these books to teach my children how to read from a young age. I love how each book has two layers of text. One page has minimal text for the child to read, often in the form of a word bubble, and the other page has more text for the parent to read.
- Phonics Readers (20 Book Collection) – These phonics books blow anything I have ever seen out of this world! In some phonics readers, they focus so heavily on one certain sound that it overpowers the text. Not so with these! If you flip to the end of the book, there’s a section for parents that explains what the focus is and how to use the books which is great! Every book in this series is so well done. I mean, this is quality literature for sure that your little readers will learn how to decode with repeated reading. The rhyming text makes figuring out the last word very predictable. I like pausing to give my little ones a chance to say the last word as they are learning how to read.
- Elephant and Piggie Books – We love ALL of these books! Elliot was a bit of a “late reader” (reading at age 5, everyone else was reading by 3, but that’s another story…) in our family and he LOVED books like: We are in a Book, The Thank You Book, There’s a Bird on Your Head, and I Broke My Trunk! These books are the new and improved Dick and Jane books from the past revamped with engaging text that is simple, easy, and fun for new readers.
- Book Box Sets – There’s something super fun about getting a set of books that fit into a cute little carrying case. If children have favorite characters and then can read multiple books about those same characters, they are bringing a lot of background knowledge to the table. These phonics boxed sets are a great place for children to start reading.
- Ready to Read Books – I love the large print and simple text using characters and settings that children are familiar with for children who are beginning to read independently. Here are some sets of Ready to Read books.
- Books About TV Shows – We LOVE connecting reading with our kids’ favorite TV programs because it gives them a HUGE wealth of background knowledge to read the books on their own. Often times, books about TV shows will have way too much text for a new reader, but our children have enjoyed picture reading or reading them repeatedly with us until they’re ready to read them on their own. We’ve enjoyed Dora, Backyardigans, Maisy, Daniel Tiger, and more.
- Shel Silverstein – We love reading Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic as read alouds and our kids (once they’re about 3-4 years old) LOVE them. They are so funny!
- Captain Underpants – These books are not what is typically considered “quality” because of the potty humor, but kids LOVE them, and I think that is most important. Our son Elliot was a bit reluctant to start reading, and these books gave him the final push and motivation to start really reading when he was 5. He LOVED reading the little cartoons and pictures, doing the flip-o-rama pages, and all of the potty humor.
- Share Your Interests – I’m mostly a nonfiction reader, and I really enjoy learning about biology and how the body works, so I LOVE reading these Basher Books about chemistry, biology, the periodic table and more. My husband really likes reading illustrated classics like Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, and Swiss Family Robinson as well as anything by Neil Gaiman.
- Follow Their Interests – Each of our children have expressed different interests at different ages, and we make it a point to purchase books for them that match their interest. Right now for example, our son Julian (2) is really into cars and trucks, our daughter Ophelia (4) loves Daniel Tiger, Elliot (6) is really into Pokemon, and Ruby (7) devours chapter books at an amazing rate and right now is learning about Manga.
What is the point of teaching children how to read? At first, we are the ones filling their brains with lessons about the world, but once they know how to read, they can access everything and anything in the world that they seek. By creating a fun reading atmosphere, making a reading a special priority, filling your house with quality books, and making sure your child understands what they are reading, not only will your child learn how to read easily, but a whole world will open up where they can become immersed in whatever they are passionate about.
For More Information
You’ll find everything you need to teach your child to read on my FREE READING RESOURCES page which includes flashcards, videos, plus more tips and tricks.
How to Teach Your Child to Read in 5 Simple Steps (Keeping it Simple)
- Language Rich Environment: Use oral language at the child’s level (Get down on the floor and play together!) and help them memorize vocabulary words. (Tell them the names of things!)
- Phonemic Awareness: Teach one sound for each letter of the alphabet. (Start with short vowels.)
- Phonics: Tap out sounds in three letter words to teach how sounds come together to make words.
- More Complex Phonemic Awareness: Introduce long vowels, digraphs, and other vowel sounds.
- Reading Comprehension Strategies: Use quality literature to interact with books and ask questions before, during, and after reading to make sure your child is understanding what is being read.
Teach Your Child to Read Blog Series (Digging Deeper)
- #1-Oral Language Development Lays the Foundation for Learning to Read
- #2-How Engage Your Baby or Young Child with Reading
- #3-Learning How to Read Begins with the ABCs
- #4-Memorizing Words Before Sounding Them Out Leads to Reading
- #5-Building Vocabulary with Numbers, Colors, and Shapes
- #6-Teaching Phonics with Three Letter Word Families
- #7-Unlock the Final Stages of Reading with Advanced Phonemic Awareness
- #8-Reading Comprehension Strategies Lead to Independent Readers
- #9-Reinforcing Reading with Writing