Having conversations about books will help your child become a better reader and an early reader, so it is important to talk with your child when you read together. Having a conversation about a book will develop your child’s vocabulary and knowledge about the topic of that book. Whether you are reading a fairy tale, a picture book, an informational book, or any other text, you can engage in a discussion as you enjoy reading together.
When you and your child sit down to read a new book, first read the entire book to your child.
For some children, particularly younger children, starting the conversation after reading each
page may be more appropriate. Next, read the book again but stop on every page or every
other page to have a conversation. Finally, after you have talked about the book as you read it
together, ask your child to re-tell part or all of the story to you or explain the information that
is shared in the book.
The best books to use have detailed pictures and are about topics that are interesting to your child. You can use books from your home or borrow a book from your child’s classroom library, school library, or the public library. Also, keep in mind that you can access books on laptop computers, tablets, digital reading devices, and smartphones. Websites such as Project Gutenberg provide free access to books and mobile formats especially for smartphones. Don’t
forget to look through your phone’s app store for free apps containing books for children.
To engage your child in conversation, you can use a great tool called PEER:
Prompt, Evaluate Expand, and Repeat
First, prompt your child by asking a question about the book. Next, evaluate your child’s answer either by confirming that it is correct or by telling your
child the correct answer. Expand your child’s response by adding more information. Finally, repeat the original prompt to see if your child expands the original answer. Use this sequence on every page or every other page. Use wh questions for your prompts. Wh prompts usually begin with w or h (who, what, where, when, why, and how).
A conversation might go like this:
Prompt your child to say something about the book. “How did you know the bear was sick?”
Your child might respond, “Sneeze.”
Evaluate your child’s response. “That’s right.”
Expand your child’s response by rephrasing and adding information to it. “The bear sneezed.
Can you say, ‘The bear sneezed’?”
Repeat the prompt to make sure your child has learned from the expansion. “How did you
know the bear was sick?” If your child doesn’t say, “The bear sneezed,” then you say it and ask
your child to repeat it. Notice how you expanded the child’s original response and modeled
how to say it in a complete sentence.
Here is a video of a mom and son engaging in talking while you read as they read a book together. In this one, you’ll notice that the mom has a bookmark in her hand reminding her of the kinds of questions to ask.
Key points about the video[Bear Says Thanks]
• Mom uses some of the important words, like bare, from the book to ask questions and talk about the book.
• Mom has the Talking While You Read Bookmark in her hand to remind her about the kinds of questions to ask. A bookmark of any kind works equally well as reminders of the- who, what, when, why, where and how- questions to ask.
• Mom encourages her son to answer questions in complete sentences by modeling how to do so.
• Mom rereads the relevant part of the story if her son doesn’t know the answer to a question.
Remember to enjoy the conversations with your child! Provide a lot of positive praise and feedback about how your child is learning about both the topic from the book and specific new words. If you are enjoying yourself while reading and talking, so will your child. Don’t forget to talk while you read!