“Hey, I know about many animals. When I went to the zoo I saw so many animals. The monkey was eating bananas. I saw a giraffe and you know, giraffe has a long necks. I saw the elephant…”
Sai, a five year old started listing all the animals he had seen at the zoo as soon as he saw the book “What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?” By Steve Jenkins at our reading corner.
Why is this important?
Readers use comprehension strategies to understand what they read. Beginning readers are no different. In sharing his experiences Sai used two reading comprehension strategies that is typical of children his age.
He looked at the book cover and predicted that the book was about animals and about parts of the animals.
He shared what he already knew about animals and animal parts (prior knowledge) through his experiences (visiting the zoo and observing animals, watching TV shows on animals).
How does predicting improve reading comprehension?
Predicting is when we guess what is going to happen next. Readers use clues provided in the book such as the title or heading, pictures and events in the book to guess what will happen next.
Sai looked at the picture of the long tail, flipped the book over and saw the lizard. He guessed that we were going to read about animals and started to share what he knew about them. His response about the giraffe shows that he was thinking about animal parts even though we hadn’t yet read the title of the book.
When children learn to predict it enables them to think about what they are reading. They are also constantly checking their comprehension by seeing if their predictions are right.
For example, when we read the page above, Sai identified the animal as a crocodile. Quite understandable for a child who is exposed more to crocodiles than to alligators because of where we live (Asia). When he read that it was an alligator’s nose (on the next page), he immediately responded, “Oh, I thought it was a crocodile. I haven’t seen alligators but I’ve seen a crocodile.” As he checked his prediction and corrected himself his understanding of the information in the book became accurate.
Sai’s comment gave us an opening to talk about alligators and crocodiles: What was same or different about the two animals and where they lived. This was an opportunity to increase his content knowledge in a meaningful manner.
In another example, Sai predicted twice that the long jointed appendages shown belonged to cockroaches. Each time he learned that it was different animal—a cricket and a water strider. He was greatly puzzled, “But why do they have legs like the cockroach?”
When I asked him why he thought they looked like cockroach legs, he said, “Look they are really thin and they are bent like that…and they are brown.”
Sai’s comments show that he made certain predictions using the clues in the illustrations. After reading the page he asked questions to understand the information correctly.
After the read aloud Sai made his own page for the book to illustrate his favorite animal. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a clue, the animal is eating a banana 🙂
Next time you read with your child, pause when you get to an interesting part and ask, “Hmmmm, I wonder what will happen next?”
Oh, and wait for your child’s response.