• What is it?

    Comprehension is the ability to understand text and make it relevant to the reader's own life.

    Why is it important?

    Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. Authors write to be able to communicate with readers. Readers need to be able to actively interact with the author's words. Good comprehension leads to reading enjoyment. Reading enjoyment leads to more time spent reading. More time spent reading leads to better comprehension, and so on...

    What can we do at home?

    Sequencing errands - Talk about errands that you will run today. Use sequencing words (sequence, first, next, last, beginning,middle, end) when describing your trip. Ask your child to remember and sequence your errands. For example, you might say, "We are going to make three stops. First, we will go to the gas station. Next, we will go to the bank. Finally, we will go to the grocery store.. Let's sequence them. What will we do at the beginning? What will we do in the middle? What will we do at the end?"

    Sequencing comics - Choose a comic strip from the Sunday paper. Cut out each square and mix the squares up. Have your child put them in order and describe what is happening in the story. Encourage your child to use words like first, second, next, finally, etc.

    Every day comprehension- Ask your child the five Ws and an H questions (who, what, when, where, why, how) about an event in his/her day. For example, if your child attended aparty, you could ask, "Who was there? What did you do? When did you have cake? Where did you go? Why did the invitation have dogs on it? How did the birthday child like the presents?" Once your child is comfortable answering these questions about his/her own experiences, try asking these questions after reading a book aloud to your child.

    Think aloud - When you read aloud to your child, talk about what you are thinking. This gives your child a little glimpse into the mind of a reader, and it is your opportunity to show your child that reading is a lot more than just figuring out the words. A good reader is always thinking, wondering, and questioning. For example, describe how you feel about what's going on in the book, what you think will happen next, or what you thought about a character's choice.

    Reading fiction

    1. Before reading - Point out the title and author. Look at the picture on the cover and ask, "What do you think is going to happen in this story? Why?" This will help yourchild set purpose for reading. If you have had a chance to read the book prior to reading it with your child, now is a good time to explain any unfamiliar vocabulary that he/she will come across in the story.

    2. During reading - Stop every now and then to ask your child to tell you what has happened so far or what he predicts will happen. You might also ask for your child's opinion. "Do you think the character did the right thing? How do you feel about hischoice?"

    3. After reading - Ask yourchild to retell the story from the beginning, and ask for opinions, too."What was your favorite part? Would you recommend this to a friend?"

    PS - Don't let a cozy reading time turn into a dreaded work session! Keep the conversation light and low-key.

    Reading Nonfiction

    1. Before reading - Point out the title and author. Look at the picture on the cover and ask, "What do you think you'll learn about in this book? Why?" This helps your child start thinking about what he already knows about the topic. When you start a nonfiction book, there are have two choices. Begin by looking at the table of contents. You and your child may choose to read the book cover to cover or choose a topic and go directly to that chapter.

    2. During reading - Make sure that as you are reading, you also read the captions, headings, sidebars, or any other information on the page. Young readers tend to overlook this when reading alone, so it's a good idea to show that the author includes lots of informationin these "extras".

    3. After reading - ask your child, "What was it mostly about? What do you still want to know? Where could you find out?"

    PS - Don't let a cozy reading time turn into a dreaded work session! Keep the conversation light andlow-key.