This activity helps build your child’s reading comprehension strategies. People underestimate the power of talk, when reading with a child. In the classroom it is the most powerful tool that we as teachers have to direct thinking. So, as parents, you can continue to reinforce this at home, by coaching your child with positive statements, by questioning and using the 5 W’s and H (who, what, where, why, when, and how) and by modeling your thinking out loud as you read. “This reminds me of…” Or predicting what will happen next, using evidence from the text.

What you’ll need

  • Books on your child’s reading level and interest level

Here’s how to do it

Create a quiet, distraction-free reading environment that has a special time and place for you and your child to read together, on a nightly basis. Choose a book appropriate to your child’s reading level, and keep in mind that even if your child can read every word correctly in the book, he may not understand the story.

Start by reading aloud to your child and modeling the strategies you use to comprehend. Discuss the story, helping your child connect his own experiences to events or characters in the book. Pause as you read and make predictions about what you think might happen next. Discuss evidence from the book that supports your prediction, and read on to see if you can confirm or disprove your prediction. Ask questions periodically while you read, such as, “Why do you think the character did that?” “What seems to be the problem in the story?” “How do you think the problem will be solved?” With practice, these strategies should become automatic for your child.

Jennifer Thompson is an award-winning reading specialist. She teaches in Virginia.