Help Your Child Become a Better Reader
As a parent, you can help your child become a better reader by reading aloud to your child and sharing your thinking as you read. Stop at appropriate intervals to model the thinking strategies that good readers use to understand what they read. Showing your child what good readers do as they read is much more effective than telling. Involve your child in a conversation about the story/text. Eventually your child will use these strategies to construct meaning in text that he or she is reading on their own.
Strategies that good readers use before, during, and after reading:
1. Activate background knowledge and make connections:
We cannot understand what we read without thinking about what we already know. Share what you already know about a topic before you read. As you read, make connections to your own experiences, other books that you and your child have read together, and your knowledge about the world. Tell what the story reminds you of. Connecting what is already known to the new information facilitates understanding. Say, "This story/picture reminds me of..."
2. Ask Questions:
We ask questions to make sense of the world. Questions send good readers on a quest for answers and deeper understanding. Some questions to ask while reading are, I wonder...? Why? What does this mean? How come...?
3. Make Inferences:
Good readers infer when they take what they already know (background knowledge) and merge it with information from the text to draw conclusions. Inferring helps good readers to make their own discoveries and reveals a deeper meaning that goes beyond the words on the page. When reading to your child, say, (while looking at the cover and title) "I predict this story will be about..." "I predict that this will happen next..." "My guess is..." "My conclusion here is..." "I think the author is trying to tell me that..."
When we visualize, we paint a picture of the story in our mind. We create "mental movies" that increase our level of engagement, maintain our attention, and support our understanding of the text. As you read to your child, please describe in your own words what the setting might look like; share the pictures you saw in your mind of the characters or events. Say, "When I read this, I picture..."
5. Determine Importance:
When good readers read, they make decisions about what is most important in any text they read. After reading a story to your child, share what you think was the most important event in the story and tell why. Say, "The most important thing that happened was...because..." "The most important thing I learned was... because..."
6. Summarize and Synthesize:
When good readers summarize, they provide a retelling of the text in their own words that includes the essential details. After reading a story to your child, paraphrase what happened in the story (include the characters, setting, main events, problem, and solution). When reading nonfiction, pause at intervals and say, "This paragraph/section/page was mostly about..."
When good readers synthesize, they integrate new information from the text with their existing knowledge and gain an entirely new perspective new or insight. After reading a text to your child, reflect on how your thinking about a topic has changed. Say, "At first I thought..., but now I think..."
7. Monitor Comprehension:
Good readers monitor their comprehension while reading and use "fix-up strategies" when meaning is lost. Some fix-up strategies include: rereading a section that does not make sense, reading ahead to clarify meaning, and using context clues to figure out unknown words. Say, "This part did not make sense, I am going to read it again..." "I don't know what this word means, so let's see if we can figure it out by reading on..."