7 Simple Ways to Help Your Child Really Understand What They Read

Are you raising a “word caller?”

It sounds kind of naughty when put that way. A “word caller” understands the connection between letters and sounds. They appear to read well, but actually don’t comprehend the material—they merely call out words.

Raising kids who love to read is an important part of this journey from the cradle to college.

I recently spoke with Susan Zimmermann, author of 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It!

I got the scoop on how to inspire my little bookworms. Check it out:

  1. Talk to your child about what they just read. Ask questions, like: Can you picture that in your head? What do you think will happen next? This will give you a sense of your child’s level of comprehension.
  2. Turn the world into a classroom. You don’t have to wait for story time to practice letters and words. Look to the environment for writing. Street signs, buildings, even candy wrappers offer your child a chance to read and sharpen their language skills.
  3. Set a good example. Read to your child early and often. Just as important, allow your child to see you reading.
  4. Go beyond picture books. Keep a variety of reading materials at home, in the car, etc. You don’t have to stick to picture books and early readers. Even more advanced materials that require your child to make sense of letters and symbols can boost their language development.
  5. Limit screen time. Television is often a passive activity. Kids don’t use their imagination in the same way they would with a book.
  6. Find books on your child’s favorite topics. If your child loves dinosaurs, make sure you hit that section of the book store. Visit the library and let your child explore.
  7. Aim for quality family time. There is no substitute for talking with and reading to your child. Turn off the TV, put away the smartphone, and get lost in a good conversation.

To my readers: How do you get your kids excited about reading? What kind of books do you like to read?

For your reading pleasure (Note: I’m an Amazon affiliate):

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About Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson is a Dallas-based freelance writer who specializes in college planning, parenting, women’s lifestyle, education, and self-help. But she's always hungry to munch on new topics. In addition to writing for The BookWormMama blog, Nicole provides content, copywriting and proofreading services for various publications.


7 Simple Ways to Help Your Child Really Understand What They Read — 21 Comments

    • I have my kid read aloud to me, like when I am cooking or when we are driving. Before bed he reads one and then I read one…

  1. My younger boys are very eager, excited readers. They are 5 and 8 and have managed to jump ahead in reading without much help from me. My daughter is not excited about reading at all, and I think it’s due to her not comprehending the material. My poor girl is dyslexic, so reading is a challenge for her. She is receiving extra help at school so hopefully she will appreciate and enjoy reading at some point.
    Jennifer The Quirky Momma recently posted..Wordless Wednesday 1/23/2013My Profile

  2. Great tips! I’ve got 5 kids – 4 boys, 1 girl – a bit older now and have always struggled with getting them to read. Finally some of them are more interested!!! What worked ? Reading one book at night as a family, helping them find a series they like (gets them hooked to more than 1 book), and having “everyone read times” including my husband and me!

  3. The major thing that has helped my daughter is letting her be involved in what she reads. Since we homeschool, I don’t have to be so strict on the reading she does. So, when we go to the library, I let her choose what she likes and we often come home with a couple dozen of books. As time has gone on, she’s read most of the interesting books for her grade level and about 3-4 grades above!
    TerriAnn @ Cookies & Clogs recently posted..Superbowl XLVII w/ 49ers VS Ravens – It’s Time to Party!My Profile

  4. Great tips. Reading is so important. Our granddaughter is 8 years old and a complete book worm — due in large part to the fact her Dad has read to her every night since she was born and because both of her parents love to read. One of Amara and her Mom’s favorite places to go is the used book store. Makes a Grandma very proud — of all of them.
    Grandma Kc recently posted..Honor Roll Success RepeatedMy Profile

  5. Thank you for sharing these tips! In our household, it is our routine to read aloud to our kids before bedtime. They usually respond best when it’s a fun, adventure-based story that is just past their reading level – they like a more complex story line. On some basic level, it’s just so important to establish routines around reading, it then becomes the expectation. It’s our favorite part of the day!

    Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop – it’s so nice to see you there. I’m now following you via email and all those other ways too! Glad we connected!
    Renee C. recently posted..Featured Guest Reviewer: Mia @ Pragmatic MomMy Profile

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