READING TO CHILDREN – ASK QUESTIONS AND ENGAGE THE CHILD
This can be done in a range of ways to encourage and foster enquiry. This article raises some interesting issues. While it is well-known that reading to children can help to foster a love of books and to develop reading as a habit, it is interesting to note that the reader – whether a parent, teacher or carer — should engage the child.
Questions that encourage predicting the story and why that story line might follow are examples of questions that are more challenging but very worthwhile when it comes to engaging the child during the reading process. Another example of more challenging questions might be to ask the child not how a character feels but why they might feel that way, as a way to encourage feelings of empathy.
It might be more difficult in a classroom environment, if not all of the students are at the same level and with the same experiences of being read to and being asked questions as they hear a story, but certainly in a home environment children can be given more challenging questions. Also, in a home environment, there is less emphasis on a question requiring a ‘correct’ answer (which children learn quickly is the norm in a classroom) so questions which ask for more speculation or for some justification might be possible.
It is without doubt desirable for children to develop reading as a lifelong habit and this love of books and delight in the telling of stories should be nurtured from a young age. Using as many different strategies to help children with this is good advice.