The #1 thing that we can do to help our children's comprehension of reading is to encourage them to read, read, read. Once your family is carving out time for your child to independently read, you're reading aloud, and you're maybe even having some family reading time, you can start having some great discussions about reading in your home.
It sounds so easy... to just talk about a book with your child. But I have read and discussed thousands of books with children, and I know. It's really, really hard. It is so easy to default to the good old question "What is your book about?" This is a valuable question, one that we've all asked and answered for good reason! But there is so much further that we can go with our children to insure that we're having deep purposeful conversations that make them better readers.
We can talk about their book's characters, who the characters remind them of, what they've learned from their characters. Do you like the main character? Why or why not? You can relate to Sophie ("When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry...")? Sometimes your brother makes you feel very, very angry, just like Sophie in your book? Tell me more!
We can make predictions together. Sometimes your kids will be right, sometimes they won't be. The great part about reading is that sometimes an author surprises us. It is so fun when our predictions are wrong because that means the story took a surprise turn! In a reading conversation, you can show your child that it's okay to make mistakes, to be wrong sometimes. (A pretty huge life lesson...)
We can talk about the setting. Why do you think George's room (in the adorable book "Doughnuts for Dragons") is messy? Oh... good eye noticing all those posters on the wall and machine parts on the floor. It's not just a big mess, but George is a scientist, an inventor, and is busy working on a very important project that he has been researching for months!
Book discussions can happen while you are reading aloud to your child, during a car ride, around the dinner table, or as you tuck them into bed at night. The most important thing is not where or when they happen. It is that they happen.
To help you start to have some of these conversations in your home, I've created a printable resource of suggested conversation topics when discussing reading with Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade students. The topics are based on the common core reading standards. This is because these are likely the topics being covered in your child's classroom and your child will benefit most if your conversations can mirror the ones happening at school. Do not try to cover all of the topics for your Kindergarten student while talking about one book! They (and you!) will probably grow pretty tired of talking about that book! One or two talking points per book is usually plenty.
Please use these topics as a guide, but above all, please always follow your child's lead. Choose literature that they find engaging, give them the choice not to talk about their reading sometimes, and make sure that your conversations with your child occur naturally. Your child will sense if you are asking questions, checking off a checklist of goals, not fully engaged. Listen to your child and talk about what they want to... even if that goes way off this resource sometimes.
I hope these ideas help you engage in some rich reading conversations in your home. Are you interested in seeing a version of this for our 3-5 readers? Please let me know in the comments section below or via email!