One strategy is picking out story elements. While we were reading the stories Akiak, about a dog running the Iditarod, and Ghosts in the Attic, about a girl whose family helps fugitives move along the Underground Railroad, we talking about things that are included in every fiction story: characters, setting, a problem, events, and an resolution or solution. There's a fun way you can show these elements in a visual way. It's called a plot map, and it helps you see these important elements in order from beginning to end. You could use a plot map for a whole book, or you can even use it for a chapter in a book.
|Our plot map for Akiak|
|Our first draft of our summary|
When you summarize what you've read it means you're putting things in your own words and that shows you reading understood what you're reading. We do a lot of summarizing when we start our book The Boys Start the War and the Girls Get Even so we remember where we left off the last time we read.
The two other strategies we've been working on are predicting and inferring. Predicting is an easy one! You look at the title and the book, and you make a guess about what you think might happen. But did you know you're actually supposed to stop in the middle of your reading to see if your prediction is on the right track?? You are!! Then you can keep your prediction or change it to what you think might happen now that you have a little background knowledge about the book. We were all very surprised to know you're supposed to go back and see if your predictions are correct!
Finally we make inferences when we try to figure out why things are happening or why characters are acting certain ways in books. Another shocking thing we learned?? Authors don't always give you all of the information you need! Can you believe it? Well, they don't. So you have to read carefully to look for clues to try and figure things out. We had to do this in Ghosts in the Attic. Virginia thought there were ghosts in her attic, and she kept asking her parents questions and telling them things that were happening. Her parents kept ignoring her, giving each other glances, or saying things that didn't seem quite right. We had to use these clues to figure out that her parents might be keeping a secret, and sure enough they were!!
Each of these four strategies can help improve our reading comprehension, and they are easy to practice at home with questions like these:
- Can you tell me about the plot of your story?
- Can we make a plot map about what you read?
- Can you summarize what happened in that chapter?
- What do you think might happen next? Why do you think that?
- Why do you think the character did / said that? What do you think that means?