Using Children’s Literature to Teach Comprehension Strategies

This post is written by a student enrolled in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature. Each student is required to contribute one post this semester.

By Olga

Helping children with comprehension and awakening them to the wonderful world of books can be challenging but not impossible.  Students come to our classrooms with different experiences as well as circumstances.  Therefore, our attitudes toward reading can impact their reading habits.  As educators we get to see our students at different reading levels.  Although some of us might get students that are reading on level, there are also cases in which we get students that are struggling.  Struggling readers are not only reading below grade level, but they also lack the skills of a fluent reader.  That is, a student that is reading below grade level struggles with phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension.  As their teachers, it is sad to see how some of them get turned off and exhibit inappropriate behaviors such as reading very little to try to hide their lack of fluency and comprehension.  Comprehension can be a challenging skill to acquire.  This is especially true when the text they are reading is not meaningful to them.  Therefore, some teachers can also find it stressful to be able to apply the appropriate teaching method that will allow them to differentiate and meet those students’ needs.  However, it is our responsibility as their teachers to make every effort to address their literacy needs.  Although fluency is an important aspect in reading, it is also important that we teach our students to comprehend, or understand the meaning, of the text.  The question is how can we teach this skill in a way that is meaningful and engaging to our students? 

Children’s books without a doubt, lend themselves to teach comprehension strategies to our students and what better way than to have them apply those strategies through the use of engaging titles.  Therefore, it is important to find and use children’s books that are appropriate and appealing to the students.  Although it may seem difficult, we can also expose our students to reading strategies that promote higher order thinking skills such as inferring, summarizing, and synthesizing among others.  We can definitely do this even with wordless books as well as picture book stories.  These books can be sorted into categories by genre, topic, theme, and guided reading levels.  Creating a rich literacy environment with inspirational children’s books can build the comprehension skills and confidence students need to become independent readers who love to read.

 The link below provides book selections that can be used to teach several of the comprehension strategies that will help students become active, successful readers:         

 http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/detailListBooks.asp?idBookLists=201

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