Talking About Stories – Helping Your Child Learn To Read

stories reading with child

It is often great telling parents to talk about the story when we are reading with our children. What exactly does this mean ?
stories reading with child
The point of talking about what children are reading is to help them think about what they are reading, to interpret and understand it. It is also a means of helping them to develop their language skills, enhance their enjoyment of a story and, of course, a way of checking on their understanding. When a child is talking about what they have read you can soon tell if they’ve got the wrong end of the stick about something !

Talking about a story also means talking about the illustrations. We ‘read’ pictures just as much as we read words and not only do illustrations add something to a story but they can also tell part of a story. Information is often conveyed in pictorial or diagrammatic form so it is obviously important to be able to understand pictures and to attend to the details in them. While it is natural to make comments about a picture such as “That’s a scary looking witch isn’t it?” or simply “That’s nice!” we do need to try and do something more sometimes. Questions and comments such as the following can help towards getting children to really think about illustrations.

  • “I wonder what that is supposed to be?” (pointing to some detail)
  • “Why do you think the giant is looking like that?”
  • “I like the look of what’s happening here!”
  • “I like this bit of the picture best, which do you like?”
  • “What’s your favorite picture that we’ve looked at?. . . Why do you like that one?”
  • “Can you guess from the picture what you think is going to happen in this part of the story? Let’s both guess and then we’ll read it and see who was right”.

When it comes to talking about the story there are questions you can ask during the reading and questions to ask afterwards. For example, you could choose from :

During the reading :

  • “Can you guess what she’s going to do next?”

“I think so and so is going to (make a wrong/silly prediction). What do you think?” “Can you guess what’s going to happen in the next part of the story?” “Now I wonder why he/she did/said that?” “Ooh, do you think that was a nice thing to do?” “Can you remember why she did that?” “I don’t understand this. . .what did he do that for?”

After the reading :

  • “Did you enjoy that?. . .Why?”
  • “What was your favorite bit of the story?”
  • “Were there any bits that you didn’t like?”
  • “I can’t remember, why did so and so do such and such?”
  • “Do you think the story could have had a different ending?”
  • “Who did you like best in the story?”
  • “Choose your favorite bit of the story and we’ll go and read it to mummy. You’ll have to tell her what the story is about though or she won’t know what’s going on.”

All these are fairly general questions and comments which could apply to most of the things your child is reading – obviously there will be particular details and happenings in individual books that you might want to pick up on or check. Don’t go overboard on asking questions each time your child reads or listens to a story though, will you? The last thing you want to do is to spoil the pleasure of the story!