Building Reading Comprehension

Functional illiteracy is a large problem in the United States

(Information retrieved from K12 Readers on July 29, 2017 from http://www.k12reader.com/the-importance-of-reading-comprehension/ )
  • Over 60% of inmates in the U.S prison system have reading skills at or below the fourth grade level.
  • 85% of U.S juveniles in prison are functionally illiterate.
  • 43% set of adults with extremely low reading skills live at or below the poverty line.

Someone who is functionally illiterate is unable to read at a level that they need to manage daily life. This could involve reading employment applications or banking forms or housing agreements.

One of the most critical pre-literacy skills is Narrative which helps strengthen reading comprehension to build strong readers.

 

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Reading Comprehension is an important part of early literacy. It involves not only understanding the story that is being read, but processing and understanding the meaning of the story, predicting what will happen and relating it to the child’s life or other stories he or she has read.

It is a skill that doesn’t come naturally and needs to be nurtured as readers grow. Our youngest readers start by connecting the pictures on the page with the words that they hear. In the beginning books have short simple sentences with clear illustrations. As a reader ages selecting stories with strong sequencing, (Like Gingerbread Man or If you give a Mouse a Cookie) help build the narrative skills essential for reading comprehension. Asking questions about the story help children begin to understand the flow of books and create a deeper connection with the story that goes beyond recalling the events on the page.

By the time a child is an independent reader we want them to go beyond decoding the words they read to a rich understanding of the story as a whole.

Check out these articles for further information on Reading Comprehension and why it matters:

Reading Rockets: What Research Tells us about Reading, Comprehension and Comprehension Instruction

K12 Reader: The Importance of Reading Comprehension

Improve Reading Comprehension

Book Review: Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle

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Sleep Tight Farm: a farm prepares for winter. By Eugenie Doyle. Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. Chronicle Books. San Francisco, 2016.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Sleep Tight Farm follows a family as they prepare their farm for winter. It is a great way to show children the work it takes to put food on the shelves at the store and what happens in the winter to the fields, animals and machinery that keeps us fed and healthy.

There is so much unique vocabulary in this book. From the different types of vegetables, to the animals and the farm equipment. Each page offers new discoveries. I even had to look up some of the vegetables myself!

The pictures are detailed providing a lot of conversation to build reading comprehension. It is a great book for children to retell the story after he has heard it a few times. Another positive of this book is it can be read to younger children with short attention spans. Each page set ends with a one line summary of what happened on the page. Or for children who have heard the story many times it provides a place where he can interact with the story. Understanding the narrative of a story will help future readers write their own and understand better the stories he reads.

It also provides a jumping off point to talk about changing seasons. What we see and do in the fall. What clothes we wear, what traditions we have, what the trees or sky looks like. It goes beyond naming the months of the year and seasons and helps your child understand how the world changes but stays the same.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This is a great book to come back to again and again and again. After reading the book through, take a few pages and discuss what is happening in the pictures. What is each of the people doing? What colors does your child see? What objects are new to your child? If your kids live in the city like mine do, a farm is a whole new world to explore.

There are many sensory experiences in Sleep Tight Farm. Make a list of each of the senses and go through the pictures on each of the pages and put it in touch, taste, smell, hear, see. This not only helps your child relate to her own experiences of these senses, but labeling and writing will encourage Print Awareness.

If possible, find a working farm to visit. Farms provide a lot of opportunities for learning. If you don’t have any farms nearby, go to the library and find books or movies about farms. This is a great use of Youtube and screen time.

Go to the store and find some of the new vegetables from the book. Discovering new foods will not only help your child become an adventurous eater, kids are concrete learners and if they can touch and feel what the vegetable is it will help them remember it better. Also, find a recipe using one of the new foods and make it to help build math literacy.

This book also encourages the discussion of where our food comes from. Try this short video describing how food gets from the field to our table.

 

WHAT TO READ NEXT

 

What is your favorite book about seasons or preparing for change of seasons? Comment at the end of the post and share ideas!

 

HAPPY READING!

Book Review: The Girl Who Saved Yesterday by Julius Lester

Preschool-school age

Fairy tales, folk tales and fables are important stories for our children to read and to have read to them. Psychology Today says the stories are universal and help children express his or her own feelings of anger, fear, shock. Imagination Soup has a blog post that says among the many skills fairytales help kids build it teaches them resiliency and how to handle problems. I like fairytales, folktales and fables because they help teach emotions and empathy.

We don’t only look to fairytales to teach our kids emotional lessons. They are also great resources for building print motivation and narrative skills and reading comprehension. Some of the best illustrations are in the retelling of familiar stories. And because these are stories our children hear again and again and again they are able to use these stories as guides in building their own stories.

Julius Lester is the author of more than twenty books. In his most recent picture book he combines the classic fairytale, folktale and fable structure to his own experiences growing up in the inner city. His protagonist is a girl, raised by trees after her parents die, returns to the village that abandoned her to remind them how important the past is for their future survival.

The language is beautiful, poetic and meant to be read aloud. The word pictures are as vibrant as the illustrations on the page. It is a cautionary tale and a tale of resiliency all in one. Lester created a story that is as important for parents to read as it is to the kids they read to.

Fairytales aren’t meant to be read one time. This is one of those books you will return to time and time again. Not only will it help build familiarity but your children will learn universal themes of responsibility, remembrance and hope.

Happy Reading!

What are your favorite classic tales?

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click a picture on the page it will link you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a percentage of the sale. I am not paid to review books. My opinions are mine and mine alone.)

 


Book Review: Return by Aaron Becker

There is no better gift to give a child than being able to tell their own story. It helps build imagination, it helps build narrative skills and believe it or not it helps build reading comprehension. Reading comprehension is a skill kids build the more they read and understand what is happening not only on the page but what might not be explicitly said in the words. There are a lot of great picture books out there that can help spark your child’s creative side but I believe an untapped and underutilized resource is wordless picture books.

The Journey series by Aaron Becker is a great example of hardworking wordless picture books. I happened to stumble upon the second book of his series not knowing that it was part of a trilogy. The great part about this book is it is great enjoyed as the whole trilogy but you and your child can still enjoy its wonderful illustrations and story as a stand alone book.

Sometimes parents are intimidated by wordless picture books. They feel like they can’t create a compelling story that will captivate their child. What I have discovered is start small. Just talk about what you see on the page. Or ask your child what they think is happening in the story. Or you start the story and have your child say what happens next and you can go back and forth until the last page. They great thing about the wordless picture book is there is no right or wrong. You and your child are the storytellers. It may be one story one day and a different story the next. It’s a great way to show your young child that stories have so many possibilities. It will unlock the wordsmith inside and help them dive into a new world.

The other great thing about wordless picture books is they work for any age. You can talk about what is on the page with babies, develop a short sentence description for toddlers and let your preschooler fill in the story. The books grow easily with the child and can even be used with independent readers as a story start.

 

Do yourself a favor and pick up this great trilogy by Aaron Becker. Explore a fantastic kingdom and find unique ways to act out the story long after the last page is read.

Happy Reading!

 

What are some of your favorite wordless picture books?

(I am an amazon affiliate. By clicking on the picture you will be redirected to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of sales. I do not get paid to review or recommend books. My opinions are mine and mine alone)

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