May, the ninth month of school, our ninth month of taking time to stop and think about the process of reading. Of different strategies, we can use daily to build intellectual competency so that our children may face the literacy demands of the adult world in the 21st century. One way to give our children intellectual empowerment is while we read with them we ask good questions that allow them time to synthesize and evaluate information; and most important for them to learn to ask questions before during and after they read. If your child asks questions as they read, they are interacting with the text which enriches the reading experience.
Encourage your child to ask questions from the very cover of the book. Sit side by side looking at the cover. What questions come to your mind? If I use #1-The Magic Tree House series Dinosaurs Before Dark, by Mary Pope Osborne, the first thing I see is Jack clinging on to Pteranodon soaring above Annie, with volcanoes in the distance. I might ask, Why does the little girl and boy look so worried? Why are they wearing the same type of school clothes I would wear when there is a dinosaur in the picture? Where are they? How did they get there?
As you talk to your child about your questions, let him know its okay to ask questions before, during, and after reading. Get excited about what you are reading with your child, show, by asking those questions, you are curious about the characters, relationships, and or facts in the book. You are showing your child how to get themselves ready to read, that you are engaged and interacting with each and every page starting with the cover.
The secret added bonus is by encouraging your child to ask real questions using a book you are developing an environment of learning and inquiry in your home. Sharing your questions with your child is an important step; you are showing that everyone is a life long learner, even mom and dad. You are making your home a “safe” place where questions, even questions without ready answers, can be asked. Your home is a place where people read, question, and learn.
When you encourage your child to ask questions as he reads you are taping into his natural curiosity and inspiring him to wonder why; many questions will be answered as the stories you read together unfold. That wonder and curiosity will have them search for their answers and create a deeper understanding, and this search will make reading fun. Be curious yourself, fall in love with Jack and Annie, and worry about them, wonder why in the world their mom doesn’t know all about the magic tree house. Get excited about all of Jack’s facts, share of few of your own. Laugh out loud at Annie getting Jack in and out of one adventure after another. Maybe, just maybe, every once in awhile throw up your hands and say, “I don’t care if it’s past your bedtime. I just have to find out if Jack and Annie make it back home.”
This is not about asking your child questions. This is about you showing your child how to be an active reader. It is about you modeling your curiosity about books, about you sharing your questions about what you read. Your child will love to generate his own questions and you will make reading fun.