A few years ago, teachers at my school read How to Read a Book. It’s a classic how-to that teaches reading skills to adults. Reading this book, along with the practice of narration, made me a better reader. So when I saw How To Read A Story by Kate Messner in the children’s section of the library, I was curious. Teaching literacy skills outright is important, and that is this book’s goal.
Teaching skills, like thinking while reading, seems too obvious to adults! But children need to be directly taught what strong readers do. These things come naturally to grown-ups, but only after lots of practice.
This book has step-by-step instructions on how to read a story. Some are simple instructions like “find a cozy reading spot.” But some teach important skills that children need to know. I described the skills in the book, and added some notes.
Prereading: Look at the book’s cover.
Note: Children should also look at the table of contents if there is one.
Sounding out words and using context: The book suggests using the pictures to see what word might make sense.
Note: Teaching children to think about the context is even more helpful!
Make predictions: Think about what might happen next.
Note: This skill is important to teach alongside some other skills. Predictions should be made using the context of the story. Also, teaching children how to correct their predictions if they are inaccurate is important.
Reading with expression: Teach children to pay attention to punctuation while reading.
Note: Too much expression can be distracting!
Other Skills To Teach
There are so many of these reading skills to teach! Here are a couple more.
Making a picture in your mind: Charlotte Mason wrote about the importance of making mental pictures while reading. More than a hundred years later, reading research showed that strong readers make pictures in their minds.
Questioning: Strong readers ask themselves questions while reading. These aren’t only prediction questions, but things like, “Why did that happen?” (Or before I became a better reader: “Wait, what?”)
I’ll hold off on reading this book with Miss H. I think I’ll share it with her once she’s a little closer to reading independently. I think it’s probably appropriate for ages 4-8, but every child is different!
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