Asking questions when reading to your child is a great way to build your child’s reading comprehension. Helping her pay attention to key details, story settings and characters simplifies the complexities of reading for a young student.
Here are three easy ways to build reading comprehension:
Help her make a self-to-text connection. For example, when reading Clifford’s Halloween together, ask “If you were Emily Elizabeth, what costume would you want Clifford to wear? How would you make that?” Making highly personal connections to stories helps young readers relate the story to experiences in their own lives, thereby making the story more meaningful.
Encourage her to pay attention to details in the story. Details in a story help support understanding of the main idea. After reading Clifford’s Pals together, ask questions that require a specific answer from the story. Some examples might be “What were Clifford’s pals’ names?” “Where did his pals live?” or “Where did the pals go to play? Do you think that’s a good idea to play there? Why or why not?” If she’s not sure of an answer to any question, help her go back and find the answer in the text.
Ask questions about story sequence. Using temporal words, such as first, next, then, and after, help children organize the flow of a story. For example, after reading Clifford and the Grouchy Neighbors ask, “What happened first in the story?” “What happened next?” “How does this story end?” Or “If you could write a different ending to this story what would it be?” Understanding story sequence helps a child organize events, information, story dilemmas, problem solving and outcomes.
Asking simple questions like these, while reading with your child, can bridge gaps in your child’s understanding of the story. Closing gaps in reading improves comprehension and makes your child a more fluent reader.
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.