In the previous post we discussed that your child “has broken the code” and can efficiently use phonics to figure out the words, and now it’s time to be certain your reader is comprehending what is read. That is equally important with NONFICTION. Your child is ready to read in order to learn new and exciting information.
What is reading comprehension?
To reiterate, reading is actually “thinking”. Reading gives us something to contemplate. This also occurs while reading nonfiction. The internal conversation, however, may be different than fiction.
Here are a few examples of what a person who reads might be thinking about as they engage with a nonfiction text.
“I think I know….”
“Now my understanding is…”
“I did not know that!”
“Wow, that is amazing!”
“I have a question about this…”
“What a cool picture!”
"I think… would like to learn about this topic because…..”
"This graph helps me understand…”
"When the camera zooms in for a photo, I REALLY see details."
How can you help your child build comprehension with nonfiction text?
The time has come. It is time to use reading to learn new information. In order to expand nonfiction reading comprehension, let’s be sure to cover the basics. Most nonfiction texts have common text features and are organized accordingly. It’s always a good idea to review and find these text features in nonfiction text. It’s a way to preview the topic and activate background knowledge. What are the most common nonfiction features?
MAIN ELEMENTS NONFICTION
Table of contents
Captions under pictures and diagrams
Labels or features of graphs and charts
Here are a few questions to help learners think deeply about nonfiction. They are grouped by questions making connections, content, accuracy and authenticity, text structure and organization, text features, and author. They are taken from Questions to Support Comprehension of Nonfiction
What do you already know about this topic?
How does this book remind you of other texts you have read?
What have you experienced in your life that helps you understand this topic?
What useful information does this text provide?
What is your interest in this topic?
How does this information fit with what you already know?
Why is this topic important in science?
What perspective does the author take on this topic?
What are some of the most important words related to science and what do they mean?
Were there parts of the book you didn’t understand? What puzzled you? What questions do you still have about this topic?
What did you learn about this topic?
What do you want to learn more about?
Accuracy and Authenticity:
How up to date is this information?
Is there evidence provided to support what the author says?
Are the pictures authentic? Do they look real?
Are the facts and information consistent with other sources?
Is any important information missing?
Does the author show the difference between fact and opinion?
Is there any information that could be misleading?
Text Structure and Organization:
What are the ways the author presents information on this topic?
How is this information organized?
What does the title tell you about this book?
How do the headings and subheadings help you find information?
What information is found in pictures, diagrams, maps, charts, etc.?
How does table on contents (index, glossary, bibliography, etc.) help you?
What information did you get from labels, legends, and captions?
Are these text features easy to use? How did they help you get information?
How does the format of the text help you to understand the topic better?
Who is the author of this book?
How does the author use experiences and knowledge to do a good job giving us information?
How does the author feel about this topic? What is the author’s perspective?
What has the author said to make you question the accuracy of the information?
Would you want to read other books by this author? Why or why not?
Another way to increase nonfiction text comprehension is to focus questioning on the elements of a summary.
What is the main topic?
Are there subtopics? For example, the book might be about dogs. But subtopics might include: what dogs eat, how to care for a dog, etc.
Tell me 2-3 things you learned for each topic/subtopic?
Tell the big ideas of the text using 2-3 sentences.
*Pro tip: There are questions that can cover almost any nonfiction text. Here they are:
General Questions to Use with almost any nonfiction text:
What kind of book is this?
What are the different parts of this book?
What kinds of illustrations and graphics are included? (photographs, drawings, diagrams, maps, sidebars)
Is there a chart? What information does it give you?
Did the illustrations help you understand the text?
What did you know about the topic before you read?
Based upon what you know about ____, are you wondering what you will learn?
What picture provided you the most information?
How did the caption help you understand the topic/picture?
What words are bolded? Use the glossary to find out about them before you read.
Did the facts change your thinking?
What was the most amazing thing you learned?
What surprised you the most?
Why might learning about this topic be important?
Don’t forget…. Talking to your children about the books they read is one of the best ways to strengthen reading comprehension. When learners participate in critical thinking to discuss a book, comprehension is strengthened.
Remember, as stated before, reading is thinking. It goes beyond just getting the words right. Reading provokes us to evaluate and synthesize new ideas and learning. Take time to read aloud to your learner and ask comprehension questions. Take time for readers to answer comprehension questions after their own reading too.
Most of all…..everyone needs to keep on learning and enjoy a good book!
“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” -Garrison Keillo