One of the ways we help our children become good readers is to give them direct instruction on how to be one. The most effective and simple way I know to help your child become a good reader is by sharing your thought process with them as you read a book to them. By sharing your insights and the insights below, you are helping your child to become a good reader. I have divided up the process of reading to before, during, and after. Each part shares what a good reader does and then gives you some things to say to your child to share your thinking process.
Before Reading, a good reader will think about what is the purpose of what I am about to read. They will ask, "Am I trying to gain information on a topic or find out what happens in a story?" By stating what you think the purpose of a story or text is out loud you are modeling what good readers do.
A good reader will look at the title, pictures, headings, bold face print and begin to ask wondering questions. You can ask these out-loud before you begin a story with your child. I wonder what this story is about? I wonder why that person is doing this on the cover? I wonder what is going to happen in this story? I wonder if this is similar to another book I read? I wonder if this relates to something else I have been learning?
During Reading a good reader will form pictures in their head about what they are reading. You can facilitate this with your child by sharing what pictures are in your head as you read a story. "I am picturing the little girl sitting by the lake. What do you see in your head?" At first your child may say "nothing." That is fine. Encourage them to make pictures in their heads of what they are reading and keep sharing the pictures that you have.
A good reader continue to ask wonder questions during a reading. You can pause in the middle of story and wonder out loud to your child. I wonder what what will happen next? Did that make sense? I wonder if why that happened? I wonder if this information verifies what I already know about this topic or if it is new to me?
A good reader will reread a passage that did not make sense. You can say to your child "That really did not make sense to me. I am going to reread it." Then reread and discuss the passage.
A good reader is able to make inferences when reading. You can say to your child, I think that character is implying (blank) I think the author is trying to say (blank) Making inferences is a big part of reading comprehension. Let your child know what you are inferring to make sense of a story or text. It will help them learn to inference.
After Reading a story or text a good reader will check to see if the predictions they made came true. You can model this by saying," I was not right about that prediction and this happened instead. It happened just like I thought it would. My predictions were right. " You can also talk about any predictions your child made. For non-fiction you might say " I did learn about (topic) just like I thought I would. I thought this what have better information on (blank). This verifies what we learned on our field trip."
Good readers are able to retell a story or summarize what they read to someone. By sharing your retelling of a story, or sharing what you have learned, you model what a good reader does. Asking your child to retell a story, or summarize is also helpful.
I try to do the above type of reading with my kids 1-3 times per week. I do not think you need to do it every time you read something to them. At first it seems strange to stop in the middle of a book and reveal your thinking to your child. But it is a very powerful way to instruct them on becoming a good reader. It becomes more natural the more you try it. Your child wants to hear what other good readers are thinking about. Especially when that good reader is you.
You as a parent are a good reader and by modeling your thought process you give your child a true gift. You are drawing them into the group of good readers, and that is a gift that lasts a lifetime.