By Dan Olberg, Principal, Park Elementary
For most of you with young children, reading together is a treasured part of your evening ritual. We know the benefits of reading. We understand the importance. In some cases with young children, we’ve even memorized favorite books. But, parents/guardians are encouraged to do even more while reading with children. Research suggests that asking questions to our children, while reading, can greatly enhance their comprehension skills. Here’s some suggestions: try asking your child a few questions that relate to the story, such as “What do you think will happen?” or “Could this happen in Hutchinson?” Start small with asking your child one or two questions per book or chapter. Doing this will give you more and more conversations about the book. Once you feel comfortable discussing the book with your child, start to talk about characters and settings in the book. Ask your child what would happen on the next page. For example, “Do you think the Titanic will sink?” In the end, it makes for some very interesting and enjoyable conversations with your child.
Occasionally, children become bored during the middle part of a book and want to give up, missing the chance to read a great ending. Below are some questions, grouped by category, to use with your child to build a better understanding of the story and to make connections with their own experiences. A couple of questions here and there are all it takes. Keep the conversation as natural as you can. The objective is not to make reading time a question and answer session, but to enhance the conversations and connections with the literature in a way that helps us engage our children with the text they are reading. In this fast paced, quick read, world that our students live in, we need them to be able to build reading endurance so they will get to the end of the book where the most interesting and exciting part of the story is found. Give it a try!
- Where did this story take place and how do you know that?
- When did it take place and what were the clues?
- If you were going to make this into a play, what would you need on the stage?
- What are the characters wearing?
- Describe the best picture you see in the story.
- What colors do you see?
- What is happening?
- What makes it so memorable?
- Who do you think is the most important character in this story?
- What is he or she like?
- Would you like to have him or her as friend?
- How is he or she like you?
So Far/Heart of the Story
- What do you like about this story so far?
- What do you think will happen next in the story?
Relate to this Story or Rising Action
- Are you the same age of the character?
- Have you had a similar situation?
- How is it unlike or like you?
- How was the problem solved?
- Would you have done it differently?
- What kind of feelings did you have about how it was solved?
- How do you think it should have turned out?
These are just some examples of how you can use questioning techniques at home to improve your child’s reading comprehension. The most important thing for children is to enjoy reading and enjoy the conversations that you have about books. Parents/guardians, have fun with it!