Did you know that one of the best ways to get your child ready for kindergarten is to talk about books as you read? We call these interactive read alouds.
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This Reading Mama and I are kicking off a ten-week series to help you get your child ready for kindergarten! To begin, we’re starting with the most important thing you can do to prepare your child for the academic learning that comes in kindergarten.
Read to your child.
Today I’m sharing ways to talk about books that will help your child become a better thinker and, ultimately, a more successful reader and writer. My guess is that your child is already enjoying many read alouds with you. But today’s five tips will help you turn them into interactive read alouds.
5 ways to talk about books
1. Enjoy the book.
This is pretty commonsense, right? Except sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we get so concerned about comprehension that we are more focused on the questions we should ask rather than letting our children enjoy the story. Respond first as a reader. When you enjoy the books you’re reading to your kids, it’s easy to know what to say.
- Oh, I love that story! Wasn’t it funny when…
- What a great book! I was so surprised when…
- I just love these illustrations. My favorite picture is…
Here are some of my top recommendations for books you’ll both love:
- Gregory the Terrible Eater, by Mitchell Sharmat
- Baby Brains, by Simon James
- Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin
- The Viper, by Lisa Thiesing
- Arnie the Doughnut, by Laurie Keller
- Christina Katerina and the Box, by Patricia Lee Gauch
- When Dinosaurs Came with Everything, by Elise Broach
- Monster Manners, by Joanna Cole
- George and Martha, by James Marshall
- Paul Meets Bernadette, by Rosy Lamb
- The Tub People, by Pam Conrad
2. Encourage your child to make predictions.
As you read, ask your child what will happen next. Certain types of books work well for asking children to make predictions. These books either have a predictable story line, many surprises throughout the book, or a surprise ending.
Books that lend themselves to predicting throughout the story:
- One Potato, Two Potato, by Cynthia DeFelice … (my very favorite picture book!)
- The Doorbell Rang, by Pat Hutchins
- King Midas and the Golden Touch, by Charlotte Craft
- What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
- Do Not Open This Book! by Joy Cowley
- Ruby the Copycat, by Peggy Rathman
- The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, by Trina Hakes Noble
Books with surprise endings:
- Millie Waits for the Mail, by Alexander Steffensmeier
- Birthday Fish, by Dan Yaccarino
- The Empty Pot, by Demi
- Cupcake, by Charise Mericle Harper
- The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone
3. Help your child make inferences.
An inference is when you figure something out that wasn’t stated directly. For example, read an Elephant and Piggie book and ask your child how one of the characters is feeling on a particular page.
“How is Piggie feeling on this page?”
“Well, how do you know that?” (with surprise in your voice) “The author doesn’t say she’s sad.”
“Her eyes look sad.”
“Great job noticing that! Illustrators sometimes tell us things without words.”
Noticing things in pictures is a great way to practice inferencing. Another way is to figure out a surprise ending. You know how sometimes the author leaves the end of the book hanging… leaving the reader to figure out what happened? A good example of this is Hungry Hen. Can your child figure out what happens to the fox at the end of the book?
Books that will make your child think:
- Goldilocks and Just One Bear, by Leigh Hodgkinson
- A Friend for Dragon, by Dav Pilkey
- Hungry Hen, by Richard Waring
- The Circus Ship, by Chris Van Dusen
- Tops and Bottoms, by Janet Stevens
- Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini
4. Make personal connections.
Has your child ever felt like a character in the book? Has he or she ever done something like what the character in the book is doing?
Books your child might relate to:
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
- The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant
- The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
- Owen, by Kevin Henkes
- Pumpkin Jack, by Will Hubbell
5. Read like a writer.
Another thing to do when reading to your child is to read like a writer. This may be a new concept to you. In a nutshell, reading like a writer means to appreciate the way the writer crafted the text or created the illustrations to make it a good story.
- “Wow, what a cool way to begin a story! It really got my attention, the way the author asked a question.”
- “Why do you think the author made these words really BIG and these words small? I think you’re right. He wanted us to say the big words loudly, and the small words with a soft voice.”
- “This part was so funny! What did the writer do to make this part funny? Yes, sometimes a surprise in the middle of a book can make us laugh.”
Any picture book can be used to help your child read like a writer.
- Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes (The author repeats this same line a lot. What do you think he does that?)
- Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka (This book only has one word on a page. Why do you think the author wrote it that way?)
- The Pout Pout Fish (Notice that this book has a repeating refrain. How does that help make this a good story?)
- I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track, by Joshua Prince (This book makes me want to get up and dance! How does the author create rhythm in this story?)
As you can see, there are so many ways to talk about books with your child! We hope this inspires you to get a stack from your library and get started.
More helpful book lists
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