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Active Reading Strategies

Reading is one thing so many well intended parents over complicate. Once your child demonstrates solid reading skills, you can focus more on active reading.

What is active reading? It is when a reader is engaged with the text, not just skimming. Have you ever read a chapter of a book and then thought to yourself, what did I just read? Well, that happpens to kids too!

One way I love to encourage active reading and just to continue to monitor reading skills, is a notebook read aloud. I'll have my child or student read aloud while I hold a notebook and got down words I noticed they struggled with or were new to them, write down questions that pop in my head about what they are reading, and then we use the notebook to drive discussion after reading together. Sometimes we complete the questions together and other times I'll give them time to complete the questions on their own. We also look up new or unfamiliar words. We use them in silly ways, so I can ensure there is concrete understanding and application.

When you read aloud with older children it can feel awkward if you aren't used to doing it, so adhere to these simple rules:

  • Stay off your phone

  • Stay present

  • Don't constantly correct or interrupt

  • If they seem nervous take turns (shared reading)

  • Show you are engaged by laughing at humorous parts and showing emotions when appropriate

Open Ended Questions are Key to Continuous Conversation - So Ask Them!

Here are a few examples:

  1. Do you think you would enjoy being here?

  2. What do you like about the setting? Is there anything you'd change?

  3. How do you think the character is feeling?

  4. How would YOU feel if you were the character?

  5. What could happen to make this character feel a different way?

  6. If you could add a character to the story, who would you add? Why?

  7. What do you think the author hoped you would think after reading the text?

  8. What would you change in this text if you could write it?

When a child is reading independently, give them Post-It's. They can mark some of the following things:

  • New and/or unfamiliar words

  • Funny situations

  • A confusing part of the story

  • When the setting changes

  • When there is conflict

  • When there is resolution

  • Write predictions

  • Write questions you have

  • Write downs connections you have with the story or a character

  • Favorite parts

  • Something new you learned

Writing while reading engages your frontal lobe and cements comprehension.

Have a child who is artistic and visualizes? Have them draw a picture of what they envision or one which reflects how the story makes them feel.

One last thing we love to do is keep a journal together, we write back and forth about the books we are reading.

We never do ALL of these things at once or even daily. We also just read and chat, but employing active reading strategies is something I aim for one to two times a week with older children.


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