Reading tips and ideas

Published: Friday, 20 July 2018

Some tips and ideas for reading with your children

I can’t quite believe that we are nearing the end of another school year!

The children have come on in leaps and bounds this year with Accelerated Reader, and it is lovely to see their enthusiasm when they tell me how they scored in their quizzes!

With this in mind, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to post some information about reading with children, as well as some handy tips and ideas for reading over the holidays.

I have been looking at some information on the BBC website and came across some interesting thoughts;

It has been found that reading stories to children can be a ‘great way of helping them deal with real life situations that they need help to deal with. Researchers have found that the brain activity that occurs when we read fiction is very similar to experiencing that situation in real life, so reading about a situation helps children work out how to solve it in reality.’

‘Scientists have also found that children who have fiction read to them regularly find it easier to understand other people - they show more empathy and have better developed theory of mind (the ability to understand that other people have different thoughts and feelings to us, which is essential for understanding and predicting other people’s thoughts and behaviour).’

Some of the children here at Place Farm do struggle when it comes to quizzing. Their ability to read the words is not always the issue, as they may be able to read lots of words, but do they actually understand what they are reading? It is the comprehension of the text and characters that gives them a more rounded knowledge of the book and, in turn, helps them to pass quizzes. It also strengthens the foundations for their learning in other subjects. Whether it is Maths, Science or any other subject, comprehension is paramount in a child’s studies and a greater understanding of reading will inevitably reflect in their everyday life.

Tips and ideas

My children are now in secondary school, and I wish I had been given more guidance on how to help them with their reading when they were younger. It has been found that ‘the benefits of having stories read to children is hugely increased when parents talk and ask questions about the story as well.’

‘Simply asking them if they can remember what happened in the story or checking if they know what some of the more complicated words mean, can really extend their understanding and vocabulary.’

There are three different types of questions worth considering when reading with your children;

  • Literal questions – asking facts about the story, for example “What was the pirate’s name?”
  • Inference questions – Looking beyond the text “Why did he do that?” or “What do you think happened next?”
  • Evaluative questions – Reading behind and beyond the lines. Where children are encouraged to give (and support) their own opinion. That is to evaluate information within the story, based on their own knowledge and experience, for example “Do you think he should have done that?” or “How do you think that makes the other characters feel?”, “Why do you think that?”

The more complex inference/evaluative questions help the children to think about and understand other people’s motivations, rather than just reading the words. This is also an excellent way to encourage their language skills and story comprehension.

As a parent or grown up reading with a child, you are best placed to assess their ability to answer these types of questions. Often, this ability is not related to their age, but rather to their language skills and past experience of reading, sharing and discussing books.

I hope that this has been of some use to you and it provokes some interesting discussions with your child and their books!

Have a lovely summer, and enjoy sharing stories together!

Happy reading!

Mrs Thompson

Sources: bbc.co.uk and Dr Sarah McGeown (Lecturer in Developmental Psychology – University of Edinburgh)