100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills

October 16, 2020

100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills

Reading comprehension involves a child’s ability to understand the context and meaning of text. Young readers quickly learn to summarize or retell story plots and identify the main characters—basic elements of comprehension. Inferencing, the ability to make predictions on what will happen based on clues within the text, is a fundamental aspect of comprehension that is integral to reading proficiency.

As text becomes more abstract, readers must find the unwritten meanings that help them develop a greater understanding of the story. Unsure how to help a struggling reader? Here are 100 ways to help your child improve reading comprehension, love the adventure of reading and enjoy exploring new books! Some of these tips may be an adventure for parents, too!

  1.    Ask questions when you read. The key comprehension questions are who, what, when, where, why and how. Your child should be able to answer these basic questions about the story or book.
  2.    Cook a recipe. Cooking and following a recipe could help with basic comprehension skills. Measuring also helps your child with math!
  3.    Narrate the story. Don’t just read aloud, narrate the story for your child. Inflect emotion and excitement to help them understand elements of the plot and motivations of the characters.
  4.    Listen to the book. Listening to a book while following along in the text could help a child to better grasp plot elements or infer meaning.
  5.    Start a family reading club. Everyone in the family should read the same book. After everyone finishes the story, talk about the plot and characters in depth together.
  6.    Use reading worksheets. Online worksheets are available on numerous websites to help parents work on reading comprehension with their child. Some worksheets include questions to gauge understanding.
  7.    Make a reading comprehension bookmark. A bookmark can serve as a visual reminder to help children think about plot elements and help identify those key “wh” questions.
  8.    Use graphic organizers. A graphic organizer can help focus on plot, characters or other aspects of the story. This is yet another visual way to help with comprehension.
  9.    Watch the movie together. After reading the book, watch the movie. Then discuss how the book differs from the big screen adaptation.
  10.   Play reading games. Download games or apps that focus on reading skills. Or create your own games at home.
  11.   Use a reading app. Readability provides struggling readers with an AI virtual tutor that helps guide reading lessons and tests comprehension. The tutor recognizes your child’s voice and provides guidance on pronunciation.  After the story is completed, the tutor will ask questions related to the story.
  12.   Let children choose their books. Kids may be more excited about reading when they get to choose their own books.
    100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills
  13.   Take a reading field trip. Visit a site featured in your child’s favorite book. Maybe it’s a museum, the zoo or somewhere else. This is yet another way for a child to immerse into the action of the story.
  14.   Make a story comprehension ball. Grab a beach ball and write comprehension prompts on each of the colorful sections. Toss the ball to your child and have them answer the prompt that faces up when they catch the ball. You can also buy a ball!
  15.   Write a storybook. Have your child write their own fiction story. By creating a plot and characters, they also have to think beyond the basics.
  16.   Draw pictures. Have your child illustrate a scene from the story. This may help them visualize the action of the story.
  17.   Create a shoebox diorama. This is a small three-dimensional recreation of a scene from the story. Like an illustration, this could help a child visualize and better understand a scene.
  18.   Meet with the teacher. When parents are concerned about comprehension, one of the first steps to address the issue may be a meeting with a child’s teacher. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
  19.   Hire a private tutor. If money isn’t an issue, a private tutor could work one-on-one with a child to help focus on comprehension struggles.
  20.   Read, read, read. Encourage children to read regularly to help work on proficiency and comprehension.
  21.   Start a book club during the summer. If the local library doesn’t offer a summer reading program, start your own. Encourage children to track reading minutes and offer prizes for milestones and program completion. This encourages regular reading during the summer and could help them to not fall behind…in comprehension and proficiency.
  22.   Offer reading rewards. For kids who dislike reading, a rewards program may be beneficial to get them to crack a book and work on comprehension. Set rewards that will motivate your child.
  23.   Set reading goals related to comprehension. Reading rewards should be tied to reading goals. These goals could be related to comprehension, page numbers or reading minutes.
  24.   Understand your child’s reading level. Parents should always know what reading level is best for their child, so that books are never too easy or too difficult. Ask your child’s teacher to better understand individual reading levels.
  25.   Choose books that are leveled appropriately. Don’t select books that are too far outside a child’s reading level. Working on comprehension requires text that a child can easily understand.
  26.   Read aloud to a child. Hearing a book read aloud could help a child understand the plot or the character’s actions. This also can be a child’s gateway to more difficult books.
    100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills
  27.   Create a reading den. Make reading fun by creating a reading nook or den. Grab pillows, covers or your child’s favorite stuffed animals.
  28.   Stop the clock. Understand that the clock doesn’t always rule reading. Sometimes it’s ok to not watch the clock.
  29.   Make a book craft. After reading the book, have your child make a craft related to the story. Your child can create a puppet based on the character of a book.
    100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills
  30.   Let children read to a furry friend. Our pets don’t judge mistakes. Let your child read aloud to the family pet. This is a great way to help them practice reading fluency.
  31.   Make a book interest list. Not sure what books interest your child? Have them make a list of favorite sports, hobbies, ideas and more. Then find books related to the interest list.
  32.   Review reading scores from school-based standardized tests. If you’re unsure if your child is reading at grade level, ask to review standardized test scores. These are usually sent home, but sometimes schools forget. Just ask your child’s teacher to review.
  33. Talk to a pediatrician if reading struggles are pronounced. If your child is really struggling to sound out words and comprehend text, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to seek guidance.
  34.   Ask for referrals. If your child’s doctor is concerned, they may recommend that your child see a specialist; ask for referrals so you know whom to consult. You may also need to check your insurance plan to find in-network specialists.
  35.   Ask the school for intervention or further testing. Reach out to the school to inquire about testing for reading struggles.
  36.   Never shame a struggling reader.
  37.   But praise progress and effort. Always offer praise for progress and effort. Positive words may go a long way to a child that is struggling.
  38.   Investigate different types of reading programs. Not every app or program works for every child. Do your research.
  39.   Find out what reading environment works best for your child. Do they like to read alone? On the couch? Talk to your child about where they love to read, and try to make accommodations.
  40.   Encourage reading breaks. Don’t push a child to read to the brink of exhaustion. Even when your child is completely lost in a book, encourage them to rest their eyes and take a reading break.
  41.   Don’t make reading a chore. All parents can nag, but try not to make reading assignments into a dreaded task. This is sometimes how those reading minutes can backfire (depending on the child). Some kids see reading minutes as “I need to get through this.” They never enjoy the story or the book because they resent being forced to do reading for those mandated 20 minutes. Encourage fun reading, and let kids read at their pace.
    100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills
  42.   Set reasonable expectations. Don’t make reading goals unattainable.
  43.   Understand that all reading is practice. Comic books count!
  44.   Don’t compare a struggling reader to a peer or sibling.
  45.   Talk to a child. Ask them to summarize their day. Ask them what happened in school. Ask them anything. Getting them to articulate their own experiences may help them articulate what they read, too. You might even focus on “wh” questions
  46.   Read books to celebrate or commemorate history. For Fourth of July, read about the Revolutionary War and our Constitution. During Black History Month, encourage children to read about historical figures in the Civil Rights movement.
  47.   Incorporate comprehension into daily activities. Talk about your day, an activity you’re doing and the steps you take to complete the activity. Incorporate those ‘wh’ questions.
  48.   Use comprehension strategies across subjects. Focusing on comprehension is vital for the understanding of all subjects. Make sure your child understands history and science by asking comprehension questions related to assignments and reading.
    100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills
  49.   Enjoy a reading snack related to the book.
  50.   Set the clock for fun reading races. If your child needs to work on proficiency, set a timer and encourage them to read a paragraph without making any mistakes.
  51.   Parents need to read, too. Kids should see parents reading and enjoying a book. Kids learn by example.
  52.   Encourage kids to write book reports. When kids finish the book, have them write up an old-fashioned book report detailing what they liked about the story and talking about the characters.
  53.   Inquire about school resources in the classroom. Do you know what type of reading resources your child’s school offers? Ask! You may be able to use programs or resources at home.
  54.   Mirror the teacher’s strategies. Inquire about what reading strategies your child’s teacher uses in the classroom. Use these same strategies at home.
    100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills
  55.   Encourage children to chunk the text to help ease comprehension struggles. Have children chunk text by reading a paragraph at a time…or a chapter. Then ask them questions about what they’ve read.
  56.   Reenact a fun scene from the book. Is this a dinner party? An amazing adventure. Reenact it with kids and home to help them immerse in the story.
  57.   Make sure kids know they aren’t alone in their struggles. Explain to them that many students struggle with reading. In fact, about 10 million struggle with reading.
  58.   Don’t let children avoid reading. While understanding a story may be a challenge, don’t let kids avoid reading. Sit with them, help them and encourage them…but don’t let them give up.
  59.   Have kids write a brief autobiography. Encourage them to retell an adventure; write down these adventures and use your child’s personal story to help them with aspects of comprehension. How did they feel? What did they learn? Make sure the adventure was a real one!
  60.   Use books as rewards for reading. The best reward for reading? More books!
  61.   Take your child to get a library card. Make a big event out of going to the library for their very first card…explain that this is their ticket to read any book they want!
  62.   Check your library’s web site for special events related to reading clubs or other activities that could increase your child’s enjoyment of books and reading.
  63.   Ask the librarian for book recommendations to help with comprehension. Librarians are great resources.
  64.   Have your child create a hero list of famous people and find books about them for your child.
  65.   Make sure any reading program you consider to help with comprehension has a free trial. Don’t risk paying for an app that doesn’t meet the needs of your child.
  66.   Don’t stop reading during school breaks. The summer slide happens when children fail to keep reading or don’t engage in any meaningful educational activities (even doing math workbooks helps!).
  67.   Check in with your child during reading to make sure they aren’t struggling.
  68.   Visit thrift stores to find inexpensive books. Some may offer kids’ books for a mere quarter! Check out thrift stores near you!
    100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills
  69.   Utilize free ‘little libraries’ around the community when money’s too tight. Remember, take a book, give a book. Or, at the very least, remember to return the book you took from this free resource.
  70.   Find books related to your child’s favorite shows.
  71.   Explore free reading resources on PBSKids.org.
  72.   Play comprehension hopscotch. Write comprehension prompts on the squares!
  73.   Embrace virtual books for children who love technology. Download ebooks to your favorite ereader!
  74.   Give your child some reading holidays. On break, give them a brief reading reprieve for a few days.
  75.   Celebrate National Poetry Month in April by reading poetry or introducing your child to your favorite poets.
  76.   On April 12, make sure your child celebrates D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read Day!)
  77.   For children who have difficulty with comprehension because of dyslexia or another learning disability, the month of October is Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia Awareness Month. You can find resources about learning disabilities or choose to be an advocate to educate others this month.
    100 Ways to Help you Child Improve Their Reading Comprehension Skills
  78.   During the month of October, parents can make reading fun by adopting a Halloween theme for at-home reading activities. Candy rewards, scary stories and even fun Halloween snacks can all be included.
  79.   In November, help your child choose books on thankfulness, the first Thanksgiving or Native Americans. Remember, encourage your child to pick the books they want.
  80.   December is the month of many holidays. Read about Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa. Talk to kids about these holidays to gauge their holiday comprehension. You may even read about holiday traditions across the globe. In Dutch traditions, St. Nicholas would leave candy or toys in children’s shoes!
  81.   For February, embrace stories of love or Valentine’s Day history to work on comprehension. Fairy tales with happily-ever-after endings are a perfect choice for this month.
  82.   Let your child read a comic strip (geared for kids) and talk about it together! Comic strips are a quick read, and may be an easy way to go over basic comprehension.
  83.   Create comprehension quizzes for children to test their knowledge of the book.
  84.   Understand that nightly reading minutes don’t always mean 20 minutes each night. If kids read for an hour, this counts toward the 100 weekly minutes. Don’t overthink reading minutes and turn reading into a chore.
  85.   Does your child enjoy building models? Reading and following the instructions may help them with comprehension. Talk about each step and ask questions related to the process as they build.
  86. Remove distractions. When a child is reading, make sure that any noisy distractions are removed. Turn off the radio and the television!
  87.   Encourage your child to read aloud. Note their inflection during the story and see if they can pick up on emotions of characters.
  88.   To analyze characters, have children create a chart comparing and contrasting main characters in a story. How are they alike? How are they different?
  89.   Ask kids to make predictions. Reading aloud to kids? After each chapter, ask your child what they think might happen next.
  90.   Check out different reading landmarks in your area. These can be places featured in books, independent bookstores, or libraries.
  91.   Take the reading outdoors. Read out in nature to change the scenery! Encourage beach reading during vacation…just don’t forget the sunscreen!
  92.   Talk to your child if you find that they are getting discouraged. Make sure to always provide positive reinforcement during reading.
  93.   Know when you need a parent break. Parents can get frustrated if we feel a child isn’t listening or doing what they need to do. Sometimes, though, their struggle is just overwhelming them. If you feel that you’re losing your cool, step back. Take a parent break.
  94.   Step into character by role playing parts of the book. You can use puppets, too.
  95.   If your child is hungry, overly tired or sick, reading could be more of a struggle. If a child can’t focus because they are tired, need to eat or just feel bad, they might not pick up much from what they read. Use common sense before pushing those nightly reading sessions.
  96.   Understand that an illness or a bad night with little sleep also could affect a child’s scores on a reading test. If scores were below expectations—and not the norm for your child—don’t assume reading has become a major problem. Reach out to your child’s teacher, and inquire if the child should be retested. If your child’s teacher is concerned, they will let you know.
  97.   Host a family reading night each week. Everyone can hang out in the living room with their favorite book. This is a great way to unplug…and unwind. It also creates a reading habit for kids.
  98.   Don’t book shame a child. If they love a silly book, let them read it.
  99.   Find poems that were turned into songs! Listen to the song and talk about meaning. How does the music set the tone for the story/poem?
  100. Don’t ban books without researching. As kids get older, parents may want to police their reading material. Before you put the stop on a book, before challenging a child who wants to read it, research the book and the author. Don’t judge a book by its cover…or its reputation. Some of the greatest novels have been challenged, banned and burned.

There are so many ways to help your child become a better reader. Many of these tips focus on out-of-the-box ways to encourage kids to pick up a book or to view reading and books positively. 

By making reading a fun activity, kids may be more open to guidance to improve comprehension. When parents are concerned that their child struggles with comprehension, opening a dialogue with the teacher may be the first (and best) step to address their struggles. 

Intervention, additional testing or perhaps even a medical referral to a specialist could also be needed to pinpoint the cause of a reading struggle. Sometimes, though, kids may simply fall behind and additional help at home may be all that is needed to help boost their proficiency.