Improve your child’s comprehension when reading picture books together by encouraging your child to think about what they already know to make connections.
Text to Self Connections – When a meaningful event comes up in a story, such as Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, take a deep dive into what is happening, why it is happening, and the feelings of the characters by asking questions about:
- Friends: This story reminds me to always be kind, how are you kind to your friends?
- Feelings: How do the children feel when they are on their way to the new club? Tell me about a time when you felt that way.
- Experiences: Why aren’t elephants allowed to go to Pet Day?
This last question will allow your child to demonstrate knowledge of elephant facts. Perhaps you’ll hear about the elephant being too heavy, breaking the floor, knocking over things in the house, or as a four-year-old recently shared, “Maybe they’re worried the elephant will spray everyone with water from his trunk. I saw that happen at the zoo.”
Text to Text Connections
- Illustrations: I recognize these drawings in The Seven Silly Eaters! What’s that other book we read that has similar pictures? I think you’re right, it is Roller Coaster! Let’s compare the books to see if the same illustrator drew the pictures.
- Similarities/Differences: In Snail Crossing, the snail has a destination, moves slowly, and gets help from ants. We read a story the other day where something similar happens to a turtle – what was that book called? Yes, it was Truman! What was different about the settings of those stories? What types of things got in the Snail and Truman’s way?
For a pairing of books, start with The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and The Lion and the Mouse by Bernadette Watts. Focus on the similarities and differences between the mice, as well as the feelings of the Lion and the Gruffalo in regard to the mice. Which mouse does your child like more and why? Also, try The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino and A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young.
Text to World Connections
- Text to News/Event at School: In A Chair for My Mother, the main character talks about how her family’s home was destroyed in a fire. What did you learn from the firefighters when they came to school to talk about fire safety?
- Text to Movie: While reading Katie and the Dinosaurs by James Mayhew, The Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc, or The Dinosaur Expert by Margaret McNamara, your preschooler may realize that a curious little monkey went to a similar museum in the film Curious George. Maybe a connection will also be made to a recent visit to NYC’s own American Museum of Natural History.
Make it Easier: Purposely choose books where characters have similar experiences to your child, pair books to make easy connections, and choose stories that represent something currently happening in the world. Your child’s ability to understand the books you read together will continuously develop if you help cultivate it.
Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a speech therapist working with children on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and on Zoom. Stephanie would be happy to speak with you about concerns you have for your child’s articulation and language development, and kindergarten readiness. Please reach out to Stephanie for speech therapy and kindergarten prep at email@example.com.