[kids-lib] Reading Comprehension

Katie Anderson anderson_katie at oslmac.osl.state.or.us
Tue Feb 9 09:10:25 PST 2010

Hello!  I just received the latest Reading Rockets newsletter, and there is an excellent short article about how parents can help their children develop reading comprehension.  I've cut an paste the whole article below and highlighted key concepts with red text, you can download and print it in English and Spanish online at: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/29918.

While this article is directed at parents with children who are already independent readers, these are excellent strategies for parents reading aloud to younger children to help develop them narrative skills--an early literacy skill critical for later reading comprehension.  This article reinforces the idea that children also need to read things that they can decode easily because it fosters reading comprehension and print motivation!

When working with parents of independent readers, remember the 5 Finger Rule: ask the child to read one page of the book and hold up one finger every time they come to a word they don't know.  If more than 5 fingers go up it's too hard, select another book.

When working with parents of children 0-5 years old, you can find tips for selecting books online at: http://www.parentsasteachers.org/site/pp.asp?c=ekIRLcMZJxE&b=307123.


Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us, 503-378-2528
Reading for Meaning with Your Child
By: Reading Rockets (2009)
Reading with comprehension means understanding what's been read. It takes practice, time, and patience to develop reading comprehension skills. Families can play an important role in helping a child learn to read for understanding.
First, make sure your child is reading books appropriate for their reading level. If a book is too hard, all your child's energy will be put into decoding and reading word for word, with less energy available to figure out what the book means. Books that your child can read with 98-100% accuracy are good choices for comprehension building. 
Reading comprehension skills can be developed using a before-during-after approach. Below are a few suggestions that will help build comprehension skills.
Your goal is to help your child build an understanding of and purpose for what they're about to read. Look at the book's cover. Ask, "What do you think this book might be about? Why? Can you make some predictions?" Guide your child through the pages, discuss the pictures, and brainstorm what might happen in the story. Talk about any personal experiences your child may have that relate to the story. 
Your goal is to help your child be an active reader. Read together and talk about what's happening as they're reading. Stop and discuss any interesting or tricky vocabulary words. Talk about any surprising or sad passages, and help them visualize parts of the story. Ask your child, "Do you understand what's happening here? What do you think will happen next?" If your child seems unsure, stop, go back and reread if necessary. Discuss any confusing parts.
Your goal is to help your child reflect on what they've read. Summarize and share your favorite part of the book. Have your child rate the book on a scale from 1 to 10 and say why. Have your child reread their favorite part or act it out. 
Take the extra time before and during reading to read with your child this way. You'll soon find yourself reading with a child who is motivated to comprehend and learn from everything they read.
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