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Reading Comprehension Through Connection

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It’s no secret that children love stories! Reading, on the other hand, can sometimes be more difficult. When children are first learning to read, they may struggle to understand what is going on in a book. It can be tricky for young children to understand a character’s actions or to predict what will happen next because they don’t fully comprehend what’s happening in the plot.

Teachers can facilitate reading comprehension with specific books that children are more likely to connect to. If the situation in the story is something with which a child is familiar, they will more easily make connections and understand the text as they read it. Children can find connections in almost any story—they simplyt need help identifying those similarities to get started.

Shirley Raines and Robert Canady, authors of the Story S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-R-S series provide activities for hundreds of classic books. They’ve arranged the books according to themes like “Feelings” or “Friends”, making it easy to get started. See below for some activities from More Story S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-R-S to help your students connect to the text and increase reading comprehension.

 

Silly Fred by Karen Wagner

This story is about a young boy whose silly antics amuse his parents but annoy his uptight neighbor. Young children are often lovingly called silly by their parents, so the setup alone is familiar to them. By kindergarten, many children have also experienced sadness or anger when their peers or other adults do not react to their behavior the same way their family does. The story is very relevant to this age group.

Activity:

  1. Ask the children/child if their parents have ever called them silly. Have them tell you what kind of nicknames their families give them like “Silly Monkey,” “Silly Willy,” etc.
  2. Read the story aloud or take turns reading a page of the story. After each page is read, ask the children/child to summarize what happened on it.
  3. At the end of the story, ask whether the children think they would have made the same decisions as Silly Fred. Why or why not?

 

Arthur’s Baby by Marc Brown

Part of the highly popular Arthur series, this story goes through Arthur’s fears and anxieties as his family prepares for the arrival of his new baby sibling. Many children experience the birth of their first younger sibling around the time they start school. However, even only children have experienced other family members (such as aunts or cousins) entering their house and have had mixed feelings about it. The conflict is familiar and very important to young children.

Activity:

  1. Ask the children/child what they think it is like having a new baby in the house. If they have younger siblings, ask them what the experience was like for them. If they don’t, ask if they’ve ever been nervous about other family members coming to visit.
  2. Read the story aloud or take turns reading a page of the story. After each page is read, ask the children/child to summarize what happened on it.
  3. At the end of the story, ask about whether Arthur’s worries came true or not. Emphasize his conflict and how he managed to work through these worrisome feelings. Bonus: Incorporate the story into the play area with baby dolls and other baby materials (bottles, diapers, etc.)

 

Aaron’s Shirt by Deborah Gould

This story talks about two things: having a favorite object and growing up. When children are young, they often have a favorite dress, favorite toy, favorite coat—you name it! They also may be getting to the age where they outgrow these favorite items for the first time. Such an experience can be both sad and exciting, and very relatable when put in a story.

Activity

  1. Ask the children about their favorite shirt or other article of clothing. If you want, have them draw a picture of it before reading the story. Ask them why it’s their favorite and how they would feel if they couldn’t wear it anymore.
  2. Read the story aloud or take turns reading a page of the story. After each page is read, ask the children/child to summarize what happened on it.
  3. Discuss the events of the story and how the children feel about it. What do they think it will be like when they have to give up their favorite object? How does Aaron handle it? 

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