Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Reading for Meaning

What if you could read words, but not understand the meaning of a whole sentence? Your reading experience might feel like this: word word word word word word. This has no meaning, so why would you continue reading?

One extremely important part of early literacy is comprehension development - understanding what words mean. Although very young children like preschoolers might not be reading yet, adults can begin to promote children's understanding of story lines. When children understand and enjoy stories, they will be more likely to continue reading for pleasure. Families and teachers can facilitate this very simply by reading a book to a child and asking questions before, during, and after the reading. Asking children questions helps them start thinking about aspects or ideas from stories that they might not have thought of during a simple reading of the text. This way, children will be used to approaching books in a thoughtful way, and when they become independent readers, they will be ready to think about the content of stories, rather than just reading words.

Providing children with rich, enjoyable, and personally meaningful literacy experiences will help them develop comprehension skills. Here are some ideas for getting started:

~Reading one-on-one with children and talking to them or listening to their
thoughts throughout a book is a great way to start.

~Storytelling is a wonderful way to connect with a child personally. Families and teachers can tell their own stories or stories that they were told as children. They might also take children to the public library
for a children's story time.

~Once children are able to sit and focus on listening to a story, families or teachers can begin to read longer books that require the child to follow a story line for more time than a short picture book. Some great examples of beginning reader books that children would love to listen to are Frog and Toad, Junie B. Jones, and Magic Tree House. Listening to and following longer stories is a great way to develop comprehension skills.

As usual, keep reading and talking with your children!


  1. Providing children with meaningful and rich texts to learn from is really important when they are trying to learn how to read. Comprehension is an essential part of learning and reading. You have listed a number of great ways to try to help children gain this important skill.

  2. It is very important for children to be able to understand what they are reading. When children cannot understand what they are reading it becomes pointless. When children understand and love what they are reading, then they are learning from something they enjoy. When they enjoy it they will continue to read.

  3. Asking questions before, during, and after the reading is a great point.
    Teachers and parents read books in just one way will not help developing children's reading skills. Also, with out that, we cannot make sure that the child really understand about the story of book. Thanking and providing a good reading environment is one of the teacher' job.

  4. Helping children engage with meaningful texts is really important. The earlier that children learn to think about what they are reading, the better they will be at comprehension and they will be able to read to learn.

  5. This reminds me of a great article I once read about a struggling reader and Junie B Jones. The article claimed that the reason for her spike in ability and interest was due to a reading material that was OUT of her developmental reading level! What an interesting concept… I would have never thought giving a struggling reader harder reading levels would improve their reading, but it did! As teachers, we need to be ready for any possibility, and be able to try many different ways to help our students. Children do not come with template instruction manuals; it’s our job to help them find enjoyment in reading.