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Helping Your Child Remember What They Read

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you spend the required 15 daily minutes with your child reading, and once the book is closed, there is little to no recollection of what was read. They can’t remember the elephant’s name was Horton, they don’t recall what kind of website Katie Kazoo and her friend were trying to make, or they don’t have a clue as to how Peter’s pet dog, ‘Turtle,’ got his name.

Comprehension. It is the next step in learning to read. Your child can be so focused on the act of reading words and how they work together, that they overlook what is going on in the story. This is common when they are beginning to learn to read. Once they have the vocabulary aspect of reading down, you can move on to retaining what is being read. As you move through this process, there are a few things you can do to help your child remember what they read.

Turn Words into Pictures

One lesson I learned about five years ago was about bringing words to life. This involves converting words to mental pictures. For instance, if your child is reading a story about floating in a boat down a river, it helps to mentally picture the boat and feeling yourself coasting down the river. Descriptive words the author uses assist with these pictures. However, sometimes the author can leave some of these details out. What you are left with is bland reading. In that case help your child be creative. Have them add their own sights, smells, feelings, and other descriptive content.

Creating pictures doesn’t have to end with nouns and verbs. You can take any aspect of prose and create a mental picture of the words on the page. When you mentally see a word or phrase, you trigger something within the memory that makes it easier to recall.  This works especially if your child is a visual learner. If you run across a dull book with few details, stop and ask questions of your child. As in our boat example, ask them what color they think it is, how wide the river is, or what is the temperature like.

Thais takes us to our second point:


Ask Plenty of Questions

Not only can you ask questions due to ambiguity, but you can also ask questions to help comprehension. If your story is about a black cat named Whiskers chasing a mouse through the kitchen, you can test their understanding by asking questions like, “What was the name of the cat?” or “What room are they running through?” A question about any of the details will help them see the cat and mouse in their mind, once again further engraining the experience into their long-term memory.

This form of learning is especially useful for those children whose minds tend to wander. My oldest son had this issue. We had to help his mind stay focused on the task of reading. This required pauses in the middle of the story and questions being asked: What just happened? Who did it happen to? Who said what? All questions are pointing to what was currently going on in the passage we just read. Sometimes he could remember, and sometimes we had to backtrack and reread a section. And that is okay. Repetitive reading also helps comprehension.


Talk About the Story

Not only do questions help with retention, but discussion about the subject matter can lead a child to remembering a book into their adulthood. This method goes deeper than what is going on in the story. It extends into feelings and motives that are behind the characters’ actions: Why do you think they acted this way? What other options could they have taken? Also questions about what they would have done if they were faced with a similar situation. Get their minds to think, instead of plowing through the story in an effort to complete it.

Discussion about a book can also help teach life lessons that may not necessarily in the pages of the book you are reading. An author usually as a purpose for writing what he or she writes. Talking with your child about the book can shine light on subject matter that is between the lines.

If a character in a story is dealing with the consequences of a bad decision, they may get themselves out of the situation, but the writer may not tell you straight out that the character should have listened to their parents from the beginning. This can be brought out with asking questions like, “What could have helped the character not get into trouble?” Then when faced with a similar situation, they may remember what happened in the book and chose to make a wiser decision.


Final Thoughts

Whether it is a story about a mouse and a cookie, an elephant with a flower, or a biography on sea turtles you can help your child retain what they read. When done right, they won’t even realize that they are learning. The key is to have patience. Some of these skills don’t work on all kids, or sometimes it takes a while for them to be adapted into habits. Either way, do not give up on your child. Repetition is the key.

Use their imagination to your advantage. Turn words into pictures, ask plenty of questions, and discuss their stories.  The more you access the creative portion of their minds, the more they will remember what they read. This will not only help them with the books they read now; it helps them with reading in future grades and into adulthood.

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How to Succeed with Our Childrens Reading

We, as parents, all struggle in one way or another when it comes to our children. We often find ourselves clueless as to how to get them to do the things that they need to do. Reading is no exception. We struggle to find the line between pushing them too much or not enough. More times than not we thrust the job off on the child’s teacher, after all educating our kids is what they get paid to do. However, it is not solely their responsibility, we have our part in the process.

Here are a few pointers when we find ourselves frustratingly grasping at straws:


Don’t Push them Too Hard

Again, the struggle to find that line between too much and not enough can be daunting. We can fail our children when we fall on either side of this line. And that line is thin. A few things we should avoid are:

Expecting Them to be Like Oher Children- Your oldest son will not learn like the youngest. Your daughter will not learn at the same pace as their brother or sister. Your child will not learn as quickly as the neighbor’s kid. It is unfair to compare your kids to any other kid, especially within their earshot. This is not only harmful to the learning process it can be detrimental to your child’s self-esteem. Don’t do it. Ever.

Moving to a New Reading Level Before They are Ready- Just because your child’s entire class is on Reading Level O and your child is still on Level N is no reason to force them into Level O. Yes, there is a time to do so, but if they are struggling to master Level N, then they will struggle even more with the next level. You will know when they are ready. This is something that you should work on with your child’s teacher. They can often see what they are having trouble with that you may not.

If laziness is an issue and not comprehension, then that needs to be addressed as well. Again, working with your child’s teacher is your best bet to come up with a solution that both of you can use with your child.

Punishing for Missing the Mark- There is no benefit to punish a child for not reaching certain levels. Even if a child is lazy, making reading a chore is not going to help the issue. Rather than punishing them, reward them for every effort. Even if the goal reached is small. If they read only ten more words than before or get 2 points higher than the last time, then that must be rewarded. Rewarded and praised. There is nothing more motivating than verbally communicating praise for any accomplishment.

Make Sure You Push Them Enough

In contrast to pushing too hard, there are times when we fail to push enough. Today, everyone is afraid of offending anyone. This has now, unfortunately, carried over into how we deal with our kids. We are nervous about hurting their feelings. We are afraid they won’t be our friend. We are scared they may give up altogether. First, sometimes feelings must be hurt to make a change. Second, you are NOT their friend; you are their parent. And third, we cannot fear the unknown. If they do want to give up, you can cross that bridge when you come to it. But for now, their success is worth the risk.

Don’t Give in Too Easy- When your child says, “It’s too hard,” don’t give in and tell them they can stop. First, discover why they find it too hard. What do they not understand? Is it because their favorite show is coming on in twenty minutes or is there a real issue that is keeping them from comprehending what is before them.

Many internal issues can prevent a child from successful reading. Too many to get into this blog. I have addressed them in previous blogs. In summary, your child could have vision difficulties, attention struggles, or learning disabilities that have not been diagnosed yet. This is why it is good to probe to find out why your child finds reading too hard. Again, talk with a teacher to compare notes. And consult a doctor if necessary.

Keep Up with Reading Assignments- Speaking of communication with your child’s teacher, your child’s teacher will be one of the key people when it comes to your child learning to read. Your child has weekly assignments to complete, and they are most often written in a Homework Notebook that is with them. You know, the one item that at Meet the Teacher Night that you were wondering why they need $12? It’s for that notebook.

Every night it is crucial that you check that book and follow up to make sure your child is keeping up with the required assignments. Most often when a child is getting left behind, it is because a parent is not checking that book to make sure their child is completing assignments. Your child is not going to offer up information that they have homework, especially when that show is coming on soon. We need to ask.

Read with Our Children- If you are not reading to, or with, your child, not only are you hurting their progress, you are missing out on an incredible opportunity of quality time with your child. Reading time is bonding time. The books you read with your child today will be etched in their memories. They will draw back on them when they are older and have kids of their own.

I know your day is busy. Mine is too, and it never seems like there are enough hours in the day. Just because we as parents are busy, doesn’t mean that we can push that off on our kids. They are important and raising them is our primary job. Those fifteen minutes will be rewarding. Not only for their abilities but to your bond with your child. You can worry about bills, deadlines, and the car the other twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes of the day. Your child needs your time and attention.


Never Make Assumptions

It’s Not the Teachers Job- Your child’s teacher is just a part of the reading cycle. They are there to educate; your child is there to do, you are there to reinforce. If there is a breakdown in any one of these tenants, then your child will fall behind. Don’t assume your teacher will do all the work. Do not blame them when a child gets a poor grade or cannot get beyond a reading level if you are not doing your job of supporting them in what they are doing. The worst thing you can do is to contradict your child’s teacher or to tell them something is not important. Always support and reinforce. The two of you working together will ensure your child’s success.

They May Not Understand- It is also important to ask questions. Sometimes a child will be afraid to admit that they do not know something. Ask questions about what they read. Questions like: Who is the main character? What are they doing?  Not only can you ask direct questions, ask open-ended questions that will get them talking about the story. Why do you think the character did that? How would you feel in that situation? Open-ended questions get their minds working and helps them with communication.

They May Not Do What They Say- We all have gone through it. We ask if they read for the night and they tell us they have. You may find this hard to believe, but children are not always truthful, especially when that program starts in five minutes. Don’t assume. I’m not saying always to doubt their truthfulness. I am saying to trust them, but always verify it through seeing their homework notebook. OR you can ask questions about what they read. That will be the telltale sign of whether they did their work or not.


Final Thoughts

Your child can be successful at reading. However, we need to make sure we are doing our job as parents. It is not anyone’s fault when our child struggles. Blame only makes things worse, on everyone. It is best to get down to why there is a struggle. Make sure we are on the same page with our child’s teacher. Ensure we are walking that line between too much and not enough. It is okay to mess up. It is a learning experience for you, as well as your child. Find what works and stick with it. Rewards are a good thing, punishments only hinder. Don’t give in to complaints to quickly and push enough to get them motivated.

Finally, a good dose of prayer is always a good thing. I can honestly say that if you are not daily praying for your children, then you are missing out on a tremendous blessing. Not only for them but for yourself. When lifting someone up in prayer, you are creating a deeper bond with them in your heart. Pray for their abilities. Pray for the struggles they may be having. Most of all pray for your patience and understanding in how to work with your child on their road to reading success.

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Book Review: Love and Other Secrets (The First Kiss Hypothesis #2) by Christina Mandelski

Summary: Star lacrosse player Alex “Kov” Koviak has it all. Or so everyone thinks. He’s real good at pretending his life is perfect...until he meets Bailey. The girl challenges him and pushes him and makes him laugh like he’s never laughed before. Their friendship is their little secret, and he’s happy to keep her to himself.

Between school, two jobs, and trying to get into NYU film school, Bailey Banfield has zero time for a social life. But then she meets Alex in her express lane at the grocery store, and their secret friendship becomes the only place she can breathe. She refuses to complicate that with more. No matter how charming Alex can be.

When Bailey decides to film outrageous promposals for her NYU application, she enlists Alex’s help to plan an over-the-top, epic promposal to someone else. Too bad the only prom date Alex wants anywhere near Bailey is him.

For a guy who seems to have it all, he’s about to lose the only thing he’s ever wanted.

Release Date:
Age Group: YA, Contemporary (clean), Sports Romance
Source: Review Copy from Publisher (Entangled Teen Crush)
Reviewed By: Nat

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Entangled Crush reads and Mandelski's style of writing. It's fun, fast and a little predictable. If you like Sweet Valley High style books then you have found  new author and a new publisher! Stand tall friends, don't let people dim your light for SVH!

Promposals. 🤔

I feel confident that if promposals existed when I was in high school, I would have been the girl watching on the side, turning beet red just witnessing the entire scene unfold, all while secretly hoping I had it happen to me (but NEVER revealing such a girly secret).
I've seen these proposals range from simple & sweet to holy-crap-that-was-more-expensive-than-my wedding. It really gives a new meaning to go big or go home. Love and Other Secrets really tapped into what it's like to be in high school right now. Secret crushes, promposals, popularity and coming of age pains all tied into public displays of {affection}.  Are promposals affectionate or a show?? 🙄

Teens will easily relate to the plot and teenage angst. Bailey and Kov were relatable and terrible at communicating. 👈🏽 C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-I-O-N kids! It really can solve world problems.

Love and Other Secrets is sure to be loved by YA contemporary fans. It's fast, funny, relatable and like everything else, it's all caught on film. You poor YouTube generation... I'm so glad all my teen fails were not recorded and archived for all of time. 

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This article originally appeared on I'd So Rather Be Reading