Perhaps every night, you settle in with your kids for story time. Let’s face it: In everyone’s super busy schedules, that time is oh-so-precious. But you can make it even more valuable and boost the skills your child gets out of reading by asking a few strategic questions. As a bonus, it’ll make the reading experience more interesting and engaging for both of you!
“When you ask questions during story time, it really helps children learn to be active readers and to think critically,” says Tammy Milby, Ph.D., director of reading in the Department of Education at the University of Richmond. “When parents can get kids thinking and discussing a text, it makes story time a richer experience.”
Ask these questions before, during, and after a story to encourage your young learner to think about the text in a more in-depth way (it’s OK if your child can’t read independently yet!).
Before You Read: What Do You Think Might Happen In This Story?
Jumpstart your child’s creativity and attention to detail! This question helps children notice and think about clues from the book. What’s more, it piques their interest in the book, while encouraging them to think about any background knowledge they have on the story’s topic to make predictions.
In general, try to keep your questions open-ended (Ask, “What do you think this story is about?” rather than, “Do you think this story is about a superhero?”). Open-ended questions facilitate conversation and vocabulary building by giving the child the chance to formulate a full response.
During Reading: Who are the Characters in the Book? Where is the Setting?
Simple recall questions help you gauge your child’s reading comprehension. It’s common for a child to skim past words or names they’re not familiar with, but remembering these basic facts helps them to better answer more complex comprehension questions later on, and boosts attention and memory skills. What’s more, knowing all of the important details will help make the rest of the book far more engaging and enjoyable. If necessary, flip back through the pages to find the answer together.
During Reading: Does Anything in this Book seem Familiar to You?
You could also phrase this question as: “Can you make a connection between what’s happening in this book and something in your own life?” When kids connect to the world around them, it helps them better understand it. Also, when a child can connect to a book, they are more likely to comprehend and remember the information.
After Reading: What was your Favorite Part of the Book? Why?
Children often really enjoy explaining their favorite part of the book. If a child recalls the information, it is fairly easy for them. However; when answering “why” it is a bit more difficult. This allows the child to use critical thinking skills to support their reasoning. Encourage your child to think outside of the box for why it was their favorite part.