Tips on How to Actively Read to your Child

One area parents
are often asking for help in is how to read with their child. As a parent,
reading with your child is the one of the most important things you can do.  
But how do you
read with your child? How can you improve the way you read with your child?
There are a few simple steps that can help you actively engage your child while
reading.
In a course many
years ago, I read about a method called the CROWD method. It was an acronym to
share with parents to read with their child. The only problem I found was that
it was written for a teacher, not for a parent. My goal was to one day create a
method that was easier for parents to understand. While the acronym FLOWERS is kind
of cheesy
not the most interesting acronym, it is simple to remember.
The FLOWERS Method for
Active Reading

Forecast. When you first sit down with your child,
you should make a forecast about what the story will be about (also known as a
prediction). Look at the cover, talk about what you see on the cover and what the
story may be about. Flip through the pages; look at the pictures. Ask your
child, what do you think is going to happen in the story? Sometimes, I paperclip
the pages at the end of the story to make the ending more of a mystery.
Example. Look at
the cover above for Where the Wild Things
Are
by Maurice Sendak. Ask your child, what do you notice on the cover? (a
monster, a boat, big trees, water, it looks like he’s in the woods, etc. ) Ask
your child, what do you think might happen in the story? Then flip through the
pages and look at the pictures. Talk together about what is happening in the
pictures and what might be happening in the story.
Leave Words Out
Leaving
out the words is a simple technique to get students more engaged in the story. While
reading the story aloud, leave some words out. Let your child
fill-in-the-blanks (only one word per sentence, every few sentences). They may
not always be right and that’s okay!
                                                                                                                 
Example.
Look at the page above from The Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss. Read, “The Sun did not shine. It was too wet to ______.” Have
your child make guesses as to what the blank is. If they don’t get it, sound
out the first two letters of the word, “pl” and see if they can fill it in.  
Open-Ended Questions
Ask
open-ended questions while reading. This encourages children to make inferences
(thinking beyond the text). At the end of this post, I attached some
suggestions of open-ended questions to help with this step.
Example.
 Look at the page above from Jan Brett’s The Mitten. Ask your child, how do you
think the animals in the mitten are feeling? What do you think is going to
happen next?


“Wh” Questions
Ask
“Wh” questions about the story and pictures. Who, what, where, when, why, and
how.
Example.
On the page above in Click, Clack, Moo: Cows
That Type
by Doreen Cronin, you could ask the following questions. Where does
the story take place? (a farm) Who is writing a note to Farmer Brown now? (the
ducks) What do the ducks want? (a diving board) When did the Ducks write the note?
(the morning after the cows got their blankets).
                                 
Emote While Reading
Students
first learn how to read aloud from listening to you. If you have an old
favorite that you read again and again, notice that your child will copy the
expression you use while pretending to read it back.  If you read with no emotion and little
expression, your child will not learn how to properly emote while reading. In
addition, reading with expression provides your child with additional
information about the text. If you sound angry, he will better understand that the
character is mad.
Example.
While reading this page above from How the
Grinch Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss, make sure to emote the Grinch’s hatred
toward Christmas. You don’t want to say happily that he hated Christmas. This
page calls for lots of expression.

Relate the Story to Real
Life
Children
love to relate stories to their real life. Ask your child, have you ever felt
like the character? Has something like this ever happened to you? Does this
story remind you of anything from home? The older the child, the more they will
be able to relate to a story.
Example.
After reading above from Alexander
and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
by Judith Viorst, ask
your child, “Have you ever felt like Alexander?” “Can you remember having a bad
day?” “Have you ever tripped over something?” or even, “Have you ever gotten
gum into your hair?” “
Summarize
After
reading, ask the student questions about the book. What happened in the beginning?
What happened at the end of the story? What was the problem in the story? How
did they solve the problem?
Example.
When you are finished reading, The Very
Hungry Caterpillar,
by Eric Carle, you could ask the following questions. “How
does the story begin?” “What are some of the food items the caterpillar ate?” “What
did the caterpillar turn into?” “What happened to the caterpillar at the end of
the story?”
When should I use each step
of the method?
Before Reading       
Forecast
During Reading
Leave
words out
Open-ended
questions
“WH”
questions         
Emote
while reading
After Reading
Summarize
Tips for Teachers
As
teachers, we often take for granted the techniques we have learned through
classes and experience. During meetings with parents, I find that we often
forget that parents do not have the same information as us – and we shouldn’t
expect them to. It is our job to have the knowledge and information to teach
their children. Yet, there are still many ways in which we can help parents. This
is a simple way to share with parents a way they can help their children at
home.
This
bookmark with directions is easy to print or e-mail to parents at the beginning
of the school year. I especially suggest sending it home with children in
preschool-second grade.

To Download

Click
the links below to download the files. After the file opens, go to File,
Download (or CTRL + S).

Files to Download