Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Best Way to Read With Your Child

I don't pretend to be a literacy expert, but I was a 3rd grade teacher in my previous life. One of the very best reading strategies we used with our students was an acronym called CROP-QV. I have found that this approach to reading works very well with my small children, particularly my 4-year-old, and it is even helpful with my 2-year-old.

CROP-QV is an acronym for 6 different reading strategies that help students stay engaged with text while reading and support their comprehension. Each letter in CROP-QV stands for a particular reading strategy. For example, the C is for Connections. When our students read, we encourage them to make connections to the text. Is there a scene in this book that reminds you of something that happened in your own life? Does this book remind you of another book you've read?

A lot of the time, when my children hand me a book, I find myself reading TO them. I read straight through distracted by thoughts of what I can thaw out for dinner until I shut the book and they scream "AGAIN!" Some of their favorite books I even have memorized so occasionally I find myself "reading" with the book in one hand while scrolling through my phone with the other. (No I don't.) (Yes I do.)

While I suppose even my distracted, monotone 500th reading of Tikki Tikki Tembo is beneficial, rather than reading TO my children, I have been making more of an effort to read WITH my children. When you model engaged reading, you are teaching your child to think critically about the story. You are showing them that their thoughts and opinions matter. It's even kinda fun for the mom.

Critical thinking is an imperative skill they will use all through their school career. With any luck, they may even use these skills after they graduate. For example, if one day your child reads an article online titled "Taco Bell Warns Employees Against Directly Exposing Skin to Food," they will hopefully have the critical thinking skills to decipher that however probable the topic, this article is actually satire. No one wants their child to grow up to be one of those people who think The Onion is an actual news publication. 

Therefore, it is important to model critical thinking skills when you read with your kids. (Except, of course at bedtime. If you're like me, at bedtime I use the strategy RTDBAFAPAGO or Read The Book As Fast As Possible And GET OUT. Perhaps I should have titled this post "The Best Way To Read With Your Child While You Are Fully Awake, Happy and Not Beaten Down By the Day.")

So the next time your child crawls into your lap with a book (and it is not bedtime), here are some examples of how to use the CROP-QV strategies.

These stragies work best with chapter books and longer picture books, but they can definitely be adapted to books for preschoolers. One of our favorite books is The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.

Even before we begin to read, we can engage with the story by looking at the cover.

Why do you think this book is called The Very Busy Spider? (Prediction) What do you know about spiders? (Connection)

As you read, pause to help your child think about what is happening in the story.

I wonder why the spider doesn't want to go play with the other animals. Is there anything you are wondering about? (Question)

All the animals in this book live on the farm. Do you remember when we went to a farm? (Connection) What other things do you see on a farm? What kind of sounds do you hear on a farm? (Visualization)

What is your favorite animal in this book? Why? (Opinion)

And, of course, kids love discussing the book when it is finished.

How did it make you feel when the spider caught the fly? (Reaction)

Did you like the story? Why or why not? (Opinion)

So give these strategies a try and watch your child become engrossed in literacy on a whole new level. Just see if it doesn't bond the two of you and make reading even more fun and enjoyable. You are inspiring a learner for life! (I'm writing these words to myself right now because here comes Jack with Tikki Tikki Tembo and I think if I have to say that infuriatingly long name one more time I just might throw myself into a well. <deep breath>)


  1. Haha! I totally do the zombie read too. I always think that maybe I should be asking them questions about the book or something, but I can never really think of any beyond "what color is the boy's shirt??" Thanks for sharing! I think this will be helpful!

  2. oooh! pinning this!

  3. Tiki-tiki-tembo-no-sa-rembo- chari-bari-ruchi-pip-berry-pembo has fallen into the well!!! I still remember that entire name (although I'm sure I spelled it wrong) from when my mom used to read me that book as a little girl. Kind of a weird book but I will never forget that name. Crazy how some pieces of literature stick with us forever. These are great strategies for engaging a child in the reading. I cannot believe how badly I sucked as a mom with an emerging reader. I thought I would do a much better job than I did, since I used to teach school, too. He learned to read in spite of me, I think. Thank goodness for his school teachers. It takes a lot more effort to have patience to teach our own children, I think. Hats of to all the homeschooling mamas out there. They are far better than me. And I'm kind of going off on a tangent now so I think I'll stop. . . :)

  4. "the strategy RTDBAFAPAGO or Read The Book As Fast As Possible And GET OUT"...Bahahaha! YES!!!

  5. You wouldn't even know about Tikki Tikki Tembo if your dad and I had not read it to you 5000 times in the 1980's. It's your turn now. And don't skip any syllables or pages either; they will notice.