Story detective

When you read a book with your child, stop and ask questions to help enhance her understanding of what she’s reading.

What you’ll need

  • A book at your child’s grade level

What to do

As you read with your child, stop and ask questions such as:

  • What’s happening in the picture?
  • Why do you think the pig is sad?
  • Have you felt that way yourself?
  • Why do you think the spider wanted to help the pig?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?
  • How do you think the story will end?

Take turns and let your child to “be the detective” and ask you questions about the book. Not only will this develop your child’s comprehension, but critical thinking skills as well.

Map a book

Improve your child’s comprehension with this drawing activity.

What you’ll need

  • A book at your child’s grade level
  • Paper and markers for drawing

What to do

Take your child’s favorite book and help her map out the beginning, middle and end by drawing pictures of all the main events.

To get started, help your child identify the main events using the “5 finger retell.” Starting with your thumb, name the first event that happens in the story, for example, “First, Fern’s father lets her keep the baby pig as a pet.” Then with your pointer finger, “Next, the pig meets Charlotte.” Do this with all five fingers.

Once your child has identified the main events, have her draw a picture of each one and make arrows between the pictures to show how the plot turns. Reshuffle them out of order and see how the story would work (or not work) if the events happened any other way.

Be Oprah

Play pretend to improve your child’s comprehension skills.

What you’ll need

  • A favorite book
  • A list of questions about the book
  • Two chairs set up like a talk show

What to do

Pretend your daughter is a guest on your talk show, there to discuss the latest book she’s read. Ask her specific questions about the plot, characters, and illustrations, for example:

  • What kind of clothes does Pippi wear?
  • What happened to Pippi’s parents?
  • What do you think is going on in this picture?
  • What happened after the robbers left Pippi’s house?
  • How did the story end?

Be sure to ask questions that encourage your child to read between the lines, and also make connections with her own experience:

  • Why do you think the teacher was mad at Pippi?
  • Does Pippi’s friend remind you of anyone you know?
  • Did anything like that ever happen to you? How did you feel when it happened?

Make your own comic

Help your child make a comic based on a book he just read.

What you’ll need

  • Paper and pencils for drawing
  • Ruler

What to do

First, talk about what happened in the story, and help your child choose events from the story that he wants to draw. Encourage him to follow the chronology of the book and to include a beginning and ending in his comic. Using a ruler and marker, divide a paper into squares. Then let him create his own comic strip by drawing one scene per square. You can help him write captions beneath each drawing.