Being able to understand and talk about a text is a vital part of your child’s reading development. From the earliest stages of sharing picture books, your child begins to understand the concept of a story and experience the joy of engaging with characters. As their decoding skills become more secure and your child becomes a more confident reader, continuing to support their reading development through shared discussion is a valuable activity you can enjoy together. Here are a few suggestions and tips:
- At the heart of reading comprehension lies talking about books. You can help your child by making sure your home is one where books are valued and where reading is seen as an enjoyable and worthwhile activity.
- Be a role model and let your child see you reading: for pleasure, for information and for purpose. Show that you read a range of different things for a variety of reasons.
- When encouraging your child to read, try to ensure they do it at a time when they are not too tired or hungry or busy playing. Help them to see it as a leisure activity not a chore.
- Provide opportunities for your child to browse books and select new ones to read. This need not be expensive: the local library, school book fairs and charity shops are all good places to browse. You’ll find some book recommendations in our Books category.
- Discuss the covers and blurb, talk about how the books are displayed, what appeals to and interests your child and whether they have read other books by the same author as ones on display.
Reading aloud vs being read to
- As children develop fluency, expect them to gradually want to read more on their own and less to you.
- Sharing the reading, by taking it in turns to read a page aloud, can be a good way to bridge this transition and supports your child to try books that may be a little challenging for them on their own.
- Use this opportunity to talk about unfamiliar words. Expanding your child’s vocabulary by talking about words and finding out what new words mean is a valuable way to support their reading comprehension skills.
- When your child is reading a book to themselves, it is still important to talk about the book and develop their understanding. Try encouraging them to sum up the page or chapter they have just read, in a sentence or two.
- Ask them to tell you about some of the characters: Can they tell you something interesting about one of the main characters? Which one would they like to be friends with? Do any of the characters face a problem? Do they have any advice for them?
- Many early reading books have questions you can ask in the inside front and back covers, including those from Oxford Reading Tree (take a look at our free eBook library). You can use these questions when reading with your child to check their understanding of the book and to give you some ideas of things to talk about with your child.
- You can look at the title of the book, the cover and the blurb together before reading. Have a flick through to look at the pictures. What does your child think this book is about? What do they think will happen in the story? After reading, remind them of their predictions. Were they right?
- If it is a non-fiction book, you could ask them to think of two or three things they would like to find out. Use the contents and index together to try and locate the information. After reading, did they find out what they wanted to?
Other ideas and activities
- Collect leaflets and guide books when out and about and encourage your child to find out about places you are visiting. Can they give you a commentary on your visit, based on what they have read?
- Discuss film and television adaptations of books your child has read or might like to read. Ask them which they prefer, once they have read/seen both and talk about reasons why.
- Ask your child to read out the instructions from a recipe, or other practical activity you do together. Do the instructions contain any ‘typical’ words and phrases? Are they easy to follow?
- Look at reviews or magazine advertisements for things. Are any parts of the text persuasive? How do you know?
- Talk about why an author chose to write about a particular topic. If you could interview the author about this topic, what would you ask them, based on what you have read?
More from Oxford Owl
- Comprehension activities for 5 – 7 year olds in our FREE eBooks, taken from our Traditional Tales series. (You’ll need to create a free account or login to access them)
- Using storytelling to develop reading and writing skills for younger children
- Video: How to help your child develop inference skills for the 11+, for children aged 9 – 11 years
Please note: all book links lead to more information on Amazon.co.uk
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