I am a huge advocate of reading for pleasure for our young people. Reading is a chance for some down time and for the wonder of being transported to a different place and time. Children who become lifelong readers are usually those who developed a love of reading at a young age, usually through being read aloud to by a trusted adult and having positive experiences with books.
Reading aloud with young children should not be a formal learning experience and should not be seen as a chore, by the adult or the child. However, it is great to get into the habit of creating conversations around children’s books through asking questions about a book and having an informal chat. Talking about books is a great way to extend the reading of a story, engage a child in reading and check their reading comprehension level.
I’ve had excellent conversations with toddlers about the content of a book and they really relish the opportunity to engage with a trusted adult about a book they have enjoyed. With slightly older children who are just starting their ‘learning to read’ journey, it’s really important that these book conversations continue. It is beyond exciting when your child starts to decipher words in a text, and we can get so caught up in this excitement that we forget another critical element in the ‘learning to read’ process: reading for meaning. I see plenty of very young children who are capable of reading the words, but ask them a few questions about the content of the book and they are at a loss.
The following questions or conversation starters can be used with toddlers right through to independent readers, just modify them as needed and of course add to these questions with your own or questions specific to a book such as ‘do you remember the final food that made Hush visible?’ when reading ‘Possum Magic’. Asking a question or two without making it a chore, will give you an idea of if your child is comprehending a text and create a great dialogue around books, which will set them up to be an awesome little reader with great text comprehension.
Don’t use these questions all the time because reading enjoyment must always come first and just choose one, or maybe two questions to focus on each time. I’ve done a few different things over the years with comprehension questions at home: written them on craft sticks for a lucky dip; created reading response stones which are also used lucky dip style, made chatterboxes and played a game to pick the question; folded cardboard dice with questions written on the sides and then rolled the dice to choose a question. Do comment and let me know how you use these questions!
1. Can you find the authors name on the cover? The illustrator?
2. What do you think of the illustrations in the book? Are they painted? Drawn? Collaged? Photographs?
3. What do you think might happen next in the story?
4. If you were the author of the story would you have ended it the same way?
5. What did you like or dislike about this book?
6. What do you think the author was trying to say to us? What helped you figure out the message?
7. What part of the story was the most exciting or interesting?
8. Which character was your favourite? Why?
9. Did any of the characters remind you of anyone that you know?
10. Can you think of any other books that are similar to this one?
11. Which is your favourite illustration? Why? Can you describe the illustration?
12. Look at the cover… did it give you clues about the story?
13. Point to these parts of the book when I call them: spine, front cover, back cover, blurb, title!
14. How did this book make you feel? Was it a happy book? Thoughtful? A bit scary? An adventure?
15. What would be a good food to eat while reading this book?
16. What is the setting of this story?
17. Can you ask me a question about the book we just read?
18. Can you retell the story?
19. Who is telling the story? (Point of view)
20. Can you think of a friend who might also like this book? Why do you think they would like it?
21. Do you know a story that is like this story?
Do your kids enjoy reading? Do you enjoy reading to them?
More ways to help kids love to read:
- 15 Books Every Girl Should Read Before Age 5
- The Best Dinosaur Themed Books for Little Kids
- How to Get the Most Out of the Library
Images: Megan Daley