Reading is an active and social process, but it is not magic. It takes a little practice and know-how to enhance your child’s reading skills. Here are a variety of strategies that can be used to get the most out of a read-aloud while still having fun with your child.
Before Reading Strategies
Good readers become engaged with text prior to opening the cover of a book or reading the first sentence. They are active right from the start!
- Have a purpose in mind for your read-aloud. It can be as simple as making a choice to read a story or to learn new information – or even re-read a familiar book.
- Make the book selection a social process by discussing what to read or why you’re reading it. Listen closely to your child’s thoughts during this discussion. Let their interest(s) guide the choice(s).
- Explore the front and back cover of the book to activate thinking.
- Hold a short conversation about what you each think the book might be about based on your cover explorations. This is an opportune time for you and your child to share your background knowledge about the subject.
- Take a picture-walk. Flip through the pages of the book and take a look at each of the pictures and structure of the text. At this point, active readers begin to make predictions. These predictions will form the early framework for understanding of the topic/story/text.
Before reading strategies should take five minutes or less. It is the time to activate engagement and curiosity by sharing with each other.
During Reading Strategies
During reading strategies are designed to help readers think along as the story or text develops.
- Continue to make and confirm predictions. This is another great opportunity to share with each other and to check for understanding of more complex ideas.
- Encourage your child to ask for clarifications of unfamiliar vocabulary, terminology or ideas. This is significant because it has a direct impact on their understanding.
- Go back and re-read any sections that do not make sense.
- Ask questions that you have about the characters, plot, or information in your reading selection.
- Make connections to your to your experiences, to other books you have read, as well as to the events going on in the world.
- If reading fiction, you can also make connections to the characters, feelings and actions.
It’s not necessary to follow all of these strategies for every reading selection, but be sure to use one or two each time you read with your child.
After Reading Strategies
At this point there should be a lot to say, after reading strategies can be compared to a vibrant book club discussion.
- Talk about how your thinking has changed (I used to think that…, but now I’m thinking…)
- Analyze the story, the point of view, the characters actions and feelings.
- Retell interesting and important facts.
- Continue to make connections to yourself, the text and the world.
- Identify key details, main ideas and the author’s message.
- Share opinions
After reading strategies may take place directly after completing the book, but the conversation may linger on over time. Bedtime continues to be a favorite time for read-alouds, however, anytime of the day is just perfect for reading. A good book leaves you a lot to think and talk about.