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Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Simple Questions Can Spark Reading Comprehension

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Would you like to have your child read with confidence and increased comprehension? Here are five simple ideas to accomplish this:

  • When your young child gets a new book, or revisits an old favorite book, let him look through all the pictures before starting to read. In education, we call this "taking a picture walk" through the book. This increases curiosity and heightens focus.
  • After the "picture walk," go back to the book cover or first large picture in the story. Ask, "What do you think this story is about?" Then ask, "How can you tell by this picture?" This helps your child begin think about the main idea of the story.
  • As your child begins to read, ask "Who are the characters on this page?" "Can you tell what they are doing?" This helps your child identify actions that are happening in the story.
  • After a few more pictures ask: "Where do you think this story takes place?" "How does the picture help you know that?" Establishing the setting of the story helps your child understand where the action is taking place.
  • As your child continues to read and look at the pictures ask, "Has that ever happened to you?" Or, "What would you have done?" In education, we call this creating a "Self-to-Text" connection. The more "Self-to-Text" connections a child can make while reading personalizes their understanding of the story.

Focusing on small segments of the story, through pictures and words, helps your child clearly piece together the main idea of the story.


#3 Jeff Wise 2011-02-28 16:18
We are so blessed because our two year old loves books and can't get enough of them! She will open all her books and look at the pictures on each page. She'll actually act as if she's reading by telling us what the pictures are doing. We need to do more of the "Self-to-Text" connection though.
#2 carol williams 2011-02-27 12:53
A long, long time ago, when I was a child, my favorite books only had pictures on the book cover; these were my favorite books because my imagination created all I needed to make a story come alive for me.
Of course, the way I learned what knights in armor, cowgirls, circus clowns, dinosaurs and skyscrapers were exactly, was from picture books as well as my parents' magazines and newspapers. Whatever I didn't know, I looked up in a dictionary, like "lynx"one day!
Of course, some books need pictures. Remember "The Color Kittens"? Since today's childrens' first books have pictures, and books are losing their allure in favor of learning on the internet, it is wise and wonderful to maximize the pleasure of a book with these exercises.
#1 Livia McCoy 2011-02-26 19:21
Great advice! Similar questions can guide older students who struggle with reading comprehension. "What do you think will happen next?" is a great one to ask them. They can draw their own pictures to go along with the story. This helps them remember events and make connections since the books they read may not have many pictures.

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