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How to Talk to Your Child About What They Read

So much of what I write about is how to get children involved and engaged in reading, but what about those children who already love to read?

A follower reached out about how, as a parent, they struggle to engage in more meaningful conversations with their children about what they read. It dawned on me that this can be really challenging to do, especially if you’re not someone who has a literary analysis background. Here are some of my top recommendations to engage in meaningful conversations with your children about what they are reading.

Start by Asking Questions

When your child has finished reading a book, ask them questions about what they have read. Start with simple questions and then move on to more complex ones.

Example questions:

1. How would you summarize the book in 2 sentences?

2. Who are the main characters?

3. What is the main problem?

Encourage Them to Express Their Opinions

A lot of good conversation can come from encouraging your child to express their opinions about what they have read. This will help them develop their critical thinking skills and learn to defend their ideas. Encourage your child to explain why they liked or disliked a book and what they would have done differently if they were the author.

Example questions:

1. What was your favorite part of the book?

2. If you could change the setting of the book, where would you change it? How would it have changed the story?

3. Did you like the author’s style? Why or why not?

4. If the author asked you to come up with a new title for the book, what would you name it?

Teach Them to Look for Themes

Even picture books often have a theme for children to identify. Themes are the underlying messages or ideas that the author is trying to convey. When your child understands the themes of a story, they will be better able to relate to the characters and understand the author's intentions.

Example questions:

1. What was the message the author wanted you to learn?

2. What did the main character learn by the end of the story?

3. How would you summarize the theme, or special message, of the book?

Discuss Real-World Connections

Encourage your child to make connections between what they read and the real world. For example, if they are reading a book about bullying, discuss how bullying affects people in real life. This will help your child develop empathy and understand the importance of the lessons they learn from books.

Example questions:

1. Did this book remind you of another book you’ve read before?

2. Does this book remind you of something you've seen at school or in our community?

3. Can you relate to what the character is going through?

4. How do you think other kids can relate to this story?

Read Together

A lot of the magic is when you read with your child and stop to ask them questions about the story. This will help them understand the plot, characters, and themes of the book.

Example questions:

1. What do you think will happen next?

2. What is happening in this illustration?

3. How do you think the character feels?

By asking questions, encouraging them to express their opinions, teaching them to look for themes, discussing real-world connections, and reading together, you can help your child develop critical thinking skills and an even deeper love for reading. (Not to mention your kids might actually talk to you!)

Believe in the magic of reading.


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