There are many milestones on the road to reading. One of the most enjoyable for parents and kids alike is when kids begin to develop what is commonly known as “reading comprehension.” This is, in fact, a tricky thing for parents to detect, but it is certainly one of the most important markers along the way to becoming a strong reader.
The younger preschool set loves Mother Goose precisely because there is no larger story to understand, only charming nonsense rhyme, rhythm, and silliness to enjoy. As they get a bit older our kids can still appreciate poetry, but they also crave something more, including suspense, plot twist, conflict, and character development. Do those sound just like the sorts of things that we grown-ups also appreciate in a book? Yes indeed. And so reading out loud to our kids suddenly becomes a lot more interesting.
To add to the fun, you can start asking your kids, at pivotal plot points such as when The Cat in the Hat has made a complete mess of the house, “What do you think will happen next?”
It seems like such a natural question, but it is much more than that. Reading specialists tell us that the ability to make predictions about what will happen in a story is a significant turning point in a child’s journey to reading comprehension. Indeed, an interest in doing so is one of the indicators that a child is “kindergarten-ready.” And it’s not simply a matter of throwing out a theory. The next question to ask your child is “Why do you think so?” As children progress through elementary school, their teachers look for them to supply examples from the text to support their predictions.
As we read with our kids during this exciting developmental phase, we do well to model generating questions, observations and predictions about the stories we enjoy together, and to invite them to do the same.
What is going to happen next? That is the question that makes stories fun, and raising a child so exciting.
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