It’s rather well-known that reading aloud to children is one of the best things you can do to promote literacy. While simply hearing the story has its benefits, really building literacy, comprehension, and vocabulary requires conversation off the page. Here is an example of some of the conversation that took place as I recently shared a wonderful book, Brontorina by James Howe,* (*affiliate) with a group of young children.
Before starting the story, I show the children the cover and ask what they see. They notice the ballet dancers and the enormous dinosaur on the cover. They love that the dinosaur’s head is bumping into the letters above. Some point out that there are BOY ballet dancers, and an old lady. “Probably their grandma,” someone suggests.
I ask what they think the story might be about.
“The dinosaur wants to eat the kids.”
“No, that’s a plant-eater.”
“I think he’s dancing. Wait, is that a boy dinosaur or a girl dinosaur?”
We talk about their ideas. We’re building prediction skills and a foundation for connections and comprehension. Then I point out the title as I read it. We talk about the letter it starts with and the sound it makes. Then someone points out that the name of someone in the class starts with a B as well. We talk about who Brontorina might be, and they all agree it must be the dinosaur on the cover. The kids can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen, so we jump in! [Read more…]