Archive for September 18, 2018

Why do I have to read?

What is the purpose of reading? Or as my oldest child might put it, “Why do I have to read?” in a whiny voice. For children preschool through second grade they are learning to read. One aspect of a student starting to read is by learning all the phonemes (letter sounds). Additionally, they can also learn that when letters are put together, they can make one sound. An example would be /ch/ or /ey/. At this level, we start introducing them to the purpose of reading— comprehension. Gibson and Moss state that “Children should learn to comprehend while they are still learning decoding skills.” (Gibson and Moss, 2016, pg 10).

How can a child show you a different ways that they understood their material? As you’re reading with your child or student, every now and then, stop and ask one of the following questions: Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?

Why don’t you want to wait till the end of the story before asking these questions? Most children’s books are 3-25 pages long. They may have understood the text at the beginning but are still working on their retaining skills. Should they be penalized for focusing on decoding and the current pages? Developmentally, children have short attention spans and memory that is still maturing. Therefore, to ensure that your child has comprehended all of the text ask questions every 3-5 pages.

Another thing to note, is that the questions how and why are the most difficult. The question how requires that a child list out directions or steps in a process, when they themselves can only (usually) follow 1-3 steps directions at a time.  Why requires pragmatics and awareness of community and personal experience. This is called an inferential question and then the answer isn’t found on the text.

Watch the following book by Mo Williems read a loud. Think about the questions you might ask a child to see if he/she understood the text. Then, compare your questions to those below:

Piggie and Elephant Can I Play Too? By Mo Williems

  1. Who was in the story?
  2. What did the snake want to do?
  3. What happened when Gerald threw the ball to snake?
  4. Where would you play catch?
  5. Why couldn’t snake catch the ball?
  6. How do you play catch?
  7. What makes a good friend?

Gibson and Moss reiterate that “Gaining meaning from text can be taught through careful and detailed orientation of children to each new reading book or story, extended and detailed conversations about these texts with teachers and peers, explanation of comprehension strategies, and children’s consistent use of meaning as a source of information.” (2016, pg 10).  These are just a few examples of how to start conversations through literal and inferential questions to further deepen a child’s understanding. Use these tools and the attached visual aid to help your child connect even deeper to their favorite books!

Comprehension glove



  1. Gibson, Sharan and Moss, Barbara. (2016). Every Young Child a Reader. New York City, New York: Teacher College Press.
  2. Read a book!. (November 26, 2017). Can I Play Too? Retrieved from

September 18, 2018 at 8:32 pm Leave a comment

Class Schedule

September 2018
« Aug    

Recent Posts