Developing reading comprehension skills is incredibly important for growing readers, starting as early as picture books. As children get older, it will help them understand textbooks, newspapers, and other more complex texts.
Scholastic offers plenty of grade-appropriate reading comprehension activity books that can help your child practice, but in addition, here are six tips to sharpen reading comprehension skills in your early reader.
1. Have them read aloud. This forces them to go slower, which gives them more time to process what they read and in turn improves reading comprehension. Plus, they’re not only seeing the words — they’re hearing them, too! You can also take turns reading aloud.
2. Provide books at the right level. Make sure your child gets lots of practice reading books that aren’t too hard. They should recognize at least 90 percent of the words without any help. Stopping any more often than that to figure out a word makes it tough for kids to focus on the overall meaning of the story.
3. Reread to build fluency. To gain meaning from text and encourage reading comprehension, your child needs to read quickly and smoothly — a skill known as fluency. By the beginning of 3rd grade, for example, your child should be able to read 90 words a minute.
4. Talk to the teacher. If your child is struggling with reading comprehension, they may need more help with building their vocabulary or practicing phonics skills. (Peppa Pig Phonics Box Set and PAW Patrol Phonics Box Set are fun ways to help your child build necessary phonics skills.) A teacher can weigh in on the best next steps to take.
5. Supplement their class reading. If your child’s class is studying a particular theme, look for easy-to-read books or magazines on the topic. Some prior knowledge will help them make their way through tougher classroom texts and promote reading comprehension.
6. Talk about what they’re reading. This “verbal processing” helps them remember and think through the themes of the book. Ask questions before, during, and after a session to encourage reading comprehension. (Read about all the questions you should ask during story time here!) For example:
- Before: “What are you interested in about this book? What doesn’t interest you?”
- During: “What’s going on in the book? Is it turning out the way you thought it would? What do you think will happen next?”
- After: “Can you summarize the book? What did you like about it? What other books does it remind you of?”