If you have been following the blog this month you might have noticed that I have been on a reading kick. All my posts this month have been centered around reading at home. Honestly, if you are reading with your child at home and encouraging them to read during their free moments you will more than likely see the benefits in their school work and personal development. So, if you are creating a rich reading environment for you child by reading at home-high five!
The above gif is usually how high fives go for me and my under 7 tutoring crowd.
If you just high fived, but you want to do more please keep reading.
Today I want to talk just a bit about how you can take the reading that you are doing with your child at home and step it up a notch to help them reap even more benefits. In other words we are going to take reading to a WHOLE OTHER LEVEL or how I said it in my head A WHOLE NOTHA LEVEL. I apologize if either one of those represents poor grammar, I just couldn't help myself.
If you are reading regularly at home, the biggest thing that you can do to step up your reading game is to ask your child questions while reading together. That's not too bad right?
Questioning will help your child develop comprehension and start to really think about what they are reading. Children need to know how to comprehend reading material not only for language arts class but in order to understand word problems in math, expository information in science, and important documents in social studies. Focusing on this one skill can transform performances in all subjects. If a child does not comprehend well, they will struggle to keep up in all subjects.
Don't let the importance of comprehension scare you. Using questioning when reading with your child can help them develop this very important skill without even knowing it.
So what questions should I ask?
You can start asking your child questions before reading. When starting a book with my students I always ask starter questions to help get their minds ready for the reading and comprehension process. If you are reading an expository book (factual) ask your child what they already know about the topic. If you are reading a fiction book ask your child to predict what the story will be about.
For younger students show or ask where the front cover, back cover, title author and illustrator are. Ask or tell what the author and illustrator do. You can also point out the page numbers and other book elements.
These questions are right there in the book. Your child can look back at the pictures and words and be able to find an exact answer to your question. These questions might look like "What color was Ben's shirt?" "Why were they going to the store?" or "Why were John and his brother mad at each other?".
You can ask these types of questions throughout the book as well as at the end. Surface questions, also known as "right there questions" are great for beginning readers especially if they need to build confidence. Whether your child is a beginning reader or not, I suggest sprinkling in deeper questions as well.
Ask your child to relate to the book in some way. If the book has characters, you can ask your child how they think the characters might feel. If your child struggles with this, ask your child what they would feel if they were that character.
Ask your child to make an inference. Inferencing is something that adults don't think about too often, but we do it all the time. If the book implies something but does state it, guide or ask your child to imply what is really going on. For example, if the book you are reading says that the main character can hear jet engines, planes taking off, and sees lots of travelers from his house ask your child where they think the main character lives.
Go SUPER deep
Have your child make connections between the book you are reading and other books they have read. You can also dig deeper by asking your child how a certain character might react in a different situation. For expository texts ask your child why they think something is the way it is in the book. Point out aspects of the text (pictures, charts, definition boxes) and ask your child why the author might have placed the elements in the book.
At the end
After reading is where the real fun can begin with questioning. Ask your child about their impressions of the book, what their favorite and least favorite part was, or whether they enjoyed it or did not enjoy it. You can even share your impressions of the book together in a journal or through drawing pictures. If you want to get even more comprehension practice out of your reading session, consider asking your child to summarize the story or retell what happened in the book to a friend or family member.
So...what do I say if my child doesn't answer my question correctly?
My suggestion is to keep reading at home as fun as possible. When your child does not answer a surface question correctly you can always say "Let's look and see what he ate for breakfast" and turn the page back to where you can find the answer, this gives your child another opportunity to look and answer. Other great responses to incorrect answers are "lets read it again and find out", "I think I would feel...so may be the main character feels...too". If at all possible, guide your child to the correct answer so that they learn to guide themselves to the answer when they are in a situation without adult assistance. If your child is easily discouraged try to use 50% questions with specific answers and 50% questions that require your child's opinion or predictions.
Want more examples of questioning while reading? Check out my most recent Facebook Live video on questioning for comprehension!
Do you have any questions or hesitations about helping your child build comprehension skills while reading together? Please make sure to leave your questions in the comments! I would love to answer them.