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Intelligent reading – Comprehension in young children

Reading – we all recognise it as a core skill. By ‘intelligent reading’, I mean reading with a level of comprehension commensurate with the child’s experience of the world they inhabit. Fortunately, reading to children is now encouraged  as being supportive of  reading literacy and as a sound foundation for future learning.

Not that long ago, children were seen as passive recipients of the eager parent’s input via the quality time spent in ‘read to me’ and ‘bedtime story’ sessions.

I always felt sure my children were taking in much more than the professional opinion allowed.

Recently, I borrowed a copy of Dr. Virginia Lowe’s very excellent book, “Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell” (Routlege 2007) based on the record of her own two children’s responses to books from birth to adolescence. Dr. Lowe’s book vindicates what I felt all along as a parent! This book should be set reading for students of primary, early childhood and remedial teaching, child and family psychology and for anyone with an interest in literacy or children’s literature!

Her children had a smorgasbord of stories proffered continuously, both Dr Lowe and her husband being librarians who were passionate advocates of children’s literature.  The children’s reactions to and responses concerning elements of story and  illustrations provide a wonderfully insightful peek into the psyche of the child. Both Lowe children clearly had a blessed and privileged childhood, but being ‘read to’ is within the reach of most children. Public libraries and school libraries are accessible to most families. Even if parental work commitments make  a nightly ‘reading’ impossible, there are weekends and visits to grandparents when  a ‘storytelling’ session can be included in the agenda.

There are other options.

Storytelling sessions are held regularly in many public libraries and are ‘free’.

And online  resources such as “Ripple Reader” and “A Story Before Bed” provide a way for even absent grandparents and parents to read to their children. In the USA and Israel, ‘bedtime stories’ are part of official early education policy. Programmes like “Reach Out and Read” and “Read to Me” do a monumental job in promoting literacy and the power of  storytime to be a deeply meaningful and bonding time in families.Virginia-Lowe-Stories-Pictures-and-reality-cover12517427738

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2 responses to “Intelligent reading – Comprehension in young children

  1. laurie27wsmith January 20, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Totally agree on reading to children, I’ve found that their attention span is quite short though. You can see their eyes glazing over sometimes as the desire to play with something electronic takes over.
    Cheers
    Laurie.
    PS, I’m doing a visit on all the blogs I follow, so hi there.

    • jrpoulter January 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

      Thanks Laurie!:) I usually dramatise things over the top and try to involve the kids in the story in some way. However, I agree where longer stories are concerne – they have to be tackled in shorter sessions and left at cliff hangers. :)

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