Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

February 20, 2024

Story Time Tips: Part 2

Tips for making story time more meaningful: Elementary Aged Kids

By Kate Wright M.S. CCC-SLP

Once children enter elementary school, it’s hard not to be swept up in the importance of your child learning to read.  While this is a critical skill, kids this age still greatly benefit from someone reading aloud to them. Being read to gives kids the opportunity to be exposed to stories above their reading level, they are given a model for the cadence and flow to reading aloud, and it’s a great opportunity to develop language skills. So how can we make the most of story time?  Here are some tips for reading to elementary aged kids:

  1. Pick stories with a clear problem and solution or with an observable beginning middle and end. Books like this help children work on their sequencing and story retell skills.
  2. If your child is resistant to being read to once they can read, see if you can agree to take turns. It’s much easier to comprehend the details of the story when you’re just listening and not working on decoding and reading skills at the same time
  3. Don’t be afraid to stop during the book to pause, ask questions and discuss. You don’t have to save all of your language opportunities for after you’ve read the whole story.

How to Target Age Appropriate Language Skills

There are so many language skills that can be accessed through literacy. Having an attitude of curiosity, investigation and discovery while reading can foster these skills. If they are having difficulty answering the questions below, help them reference pictures, the context in the sentence or story, or connect to prior knowledge to grow in the skill. Furthermore, leading your child through your thinking by modeling it out loud is also very helpful. Here are some examples of language targets you can address while reading to your child:

  • Identifying Problems and Solutions: once you read the problem, pause and ask your child “What is the problem in this story? How do you know?” At the end of the story, ask them if they remembered what the problem was, then ask them how they solved that problem.
  • Making Inferences: a challenging and important skill is picking up on information that isn’t specifically stated, or requires you to take the perspective of someone else. These skills can be targeted by asking questions such as “How do you think he is feeling? How do you know?” or “Why was she mad when her sister got to choose?”
  • Making Predictions: another tricky skill for children to practice is predicting what may happen next. Some children aren’t sure how to tell what might happen, while others are afraid to be “wrong.” You can practice this skill by stopping during the story and saying, “I wonder what might happen next. Maybe…”
  • Building Vocabulary: Reading is a great opportunity to learn new words that are unfamiliar. For example, if the story says, ‘He tried to find shelter under the tree’ stop and ask your child, “What does shelter mean?
  • Figurative Language: expressions, idioms and other figurative language are used frequently in our culture, but they can be hard to understand. During a book, pause and use the opportunity to talk about these expressions such as “What did he mean it was easy as pie?” or “What does it mean when it said he swam like a fish?”
  • Sequencing and Story Retell: after you’ve read the story, have your child practice telling you a summary of what happened in the story. Assist them in telling the story in order and including the important details like the characters, problem and solution.