Previewing Books with your Child to Boost Comprehension

By Mary Stanton, M.S., CF-SLP

Previewing books with children can really help them understand and relate to the information they read. Depending on your child’s reading level, previewing can involve checking out illustrations, looking ahead at the structure of the material (e.g., chapters, headings, subheadings), and discussing new vocabulary together. This strategy allows children to create associations to their existing knowledge and relevant personal experiences. It gets their minds thinking about what they are about to encounter in a book’s pages.

One particular approach to previewing is the “KWL” format. KWL encourages readers to think about what they Know about a topic, what they Want to know about it, and then afterwards what they have Learned. KWL charts are a method used in reading instruction, and this approach can also be a useful guide for more informal discussion about books at home. By “checking in” with your child throughout the reading process about background knowledge, you can help him or her interact with the material on a deeper level as they read and retain more of it afterwards. These conversations can build important skills like predicting, synthesizing, and summarizing information.

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