Understanding What's Being Read


Guess What Happens Next

You can help your child understand what’s being read by asking them to guess what will happen next.

When you read a story with your child, stop before you reach the end. Ask your child to predict (think about and tell) what will happen next. For example: “How would you end the story?”

After you finish reading the story, talk about what happened. Ask them which ending they liked best, the real ending or their own, and why. 

Predict What a Story is About

Before you read a book with your child, look at its cover together. Ask them to predict what the story is about. Look at the cover picture and think of questions that reading the book might answer, such as: “Why does the child look happy?”

Ask Questions Before You Read

Before reading a non-fiction book with your child, ask questions related to the book’s subject. For example, if the book is about rabbits ask questions like :

  • “How do you know what this book is about?”
  • “What do you know about rabbits?”
  • “What do you want to know about rabbits?”

When children have questions that need answers, they are more motivated to read the book and engage with the material.

Think About Ideas Behind the Writing

You can help your child understand what’s being read by asking them to look for meaning beyond the words on the page. Ask questions to get the conversation started, for example:

  • “Why do you think Ashley said that?
  • “How do you think Ashley felt when Terry was allowed to play soccer?”
  • “How would you feel if that happened to you?”

Play Detective

Play detective with your child at the grocery store, on the bus, or walking in the park. Take turns guessing what someone is doing, feeling or saying. Give reasons for the guess. For example:

  • “I bet that person is having a birthday party, because they’re buying a cake and balloons.
  • “I think that child is happy, because they’re going really high on the swing and smiling.”