Children can only make sense of reading when they understand the
and situations about which they read.
The main character in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good,
Bad Day threatens
to move to Australia. This will be meaningless to children if
they do not have an understanding
of what and where Australia is.
A child who has read and understood Cinderella will have a greater
appreciation for Mufaro’s
Beautiful Daughters, as the theme is similar, though the
setting is Africa.
When you are introducing a new story or non-fiction book to your children,
it is wise to anticipate
vocabulary or situations that are unfamiliar to them.
Handling this before you
read to them will heighten the enjoyment of reading
together. Introduce these
in a discussion before the actual reading, so that the
reading of the book can
It is particularly useful in non-fiction to identify what your child already
knows about the topic. This
is a good way to prepare for reading. It can also
help to determine the level
of the book that you are going to choose. If she is
interested in spiders, for
example, she may already know that they spin webs,
have eight legs, and come
in several different varieties.
This flip side of the coin gets your child’s mind ready to learn. Continuing
with the spider example,
she may want to find out what they eat, how many
eggs they lay, and how long
they live. Using this to guide your search for
information will aid your
choice of reading material.
I usually prefer reading a story straight through the first time I read
it to an
entire group of children.
There are times, however, when it is hard to resist the
temptation to ask, “What
do you think will happen next?” or “What could
happen next?” (It’s
also a little easier to do this with one child that with a
A child’s being able to talk about the possibilities of what will happen
story indicates his having
listened well to what you have read so far. And it is a
fine way to take a peek
at what is happening in the child’s thought processes.
This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s Advice