Tired of reading comprehension worksheets? Keep reading to learn how book discussions can transform your homeschool!
What if I told you that you didn’t need to use all those reading comprehension worksheets cluttering up your homeschool room?! Or that there was a fun way to do the exercise of comparing and contrasting with your kids? What if you could learn your child’s favorite part of a book without the dreaded shoulder shrug after you ask “What did you like about it?”
Picture this, you have read an amazing chapter book with your kids. It tells a great story, the characters are vibrant, the language is rich, and you can’t wait to hear what they have to say about it!
“Did you like the book?”
“What did you like about it?”
“I don’t know. That one character was pretty funny. And he had a dog.”
Believe me, I get it. Here you are, ready to talk about this awesome book, and everything you asks falls flat. Books are these amazing tools for our kids so why does it seem like we spend all our time just trying to read through them?!
That’s when I discovered “The Read Aloud Family” by Sarah Mackenzie. Sarah’s goal is to create meaningful and lasting connections with your kids through read alouds. It’s an amazing book and every parent should read it.
My realization after reading Sarah’s book was the concept of reading together and having discussions about books translates not only to family life, but to homeschool life as well!
Forget all the fancy curriculum and lesson plans that make you feel like you will never get it all done. All you need is books! One good book gives you plenty of opportunities for creating an entire unit of study as well as branching out and exploring all sorts of things. You can find ideas for science, math, social studies, and language arts with any book, but especially with a classic and well-written book.
I think Charlotte’s Web is a wonderful example of this. With themes like friendship, devotion, life and death, the adventures of Wilbur, Charlotte, Fern, and others takes us back to a magical childhood farm.
Charlotte’s Web was written by E.B. White and published in 1952. It’s a story about a pig named Wilbur who befriends a spider named Charlotte. When they learn Wilbur is to be killed, Charlotte begins the quest of trying to save Wilbur’s life. How on Earth do you save a pig on a farm?
Through words. Isn’t that amazing? Using the power of words, Charlotte is able to save Wilbur’s life. Some pig. Terrific. Radiant. This story shows us the power of words. If words are powerful enough to save Wilbur’s life, then stories should be enough to teach our children.
This post isn’t just about your child reading Charlotte’s Web. It’s about you AND your child reading or listening to Charlotte’s Web together and having a meaningful discussion about what happened in the book.
Sometimes we think we need to buy all the things and do all the curriculum and try this if something isn’t working or try that if it still isn’t working. But to tell you the truth, all you need is a good book, good questions, and good discussions.
It’s not that kids don’t want to discuss books with us. The problem is we aren’t asking them the right questions. We’re asking them yes or no questions when they really need to be more compelling questions.
Discussions = Improved Reading Comprehension
What I love most about discussing books with my kids is it takes away any and all need for reading comprehension workbooks, worksheets, or testing. I can ask my kids meaningful questions that will address anything that a reading curriculum would ask them.
With the correct question I can find out if they understood the conflict of the story. I can ask them what the main characters desires, what his hopes and dreams are, and use adjectives to describe that character. I can ask them where the story is set and how that influences the story. But reading comprehension is so much more than conflict, characters, setting, and theme.
Reading comprehension, at its foundation, is taking what you have just learned and applying it to what you have previously learned and then drawing conclusions from that. Learning to think. That is what literary discussion does, it helps our children learn how to think.
Good Discussions = Deeper Thinking
Discussions help our kids start practicing and exercising their deep thinking muscle. Being able to think translates into all areas of our education from math and science to vocabulary. It helps make predictions in science, it strengthens vocabulary, and creates good citizens by asking for evidence to back up what they are saying.
Learning how to think takes practice and using good books to facilitate that process is a fun and rather simple way to do it.
Especially with a book like Charlotte’s Web. Kate DiCamillo said, “Every word bears the full weight of White’s love for the people, seasons, animals, and arachnids of this world.” I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like a book I want read with my kids!
Let’s redefine what we think of as reading comprehension shall we?! What we want is reading discussions. Discussions where we take what we learned from this book and apply it to our current body of knowledge.
Forget rote memorization. In the age of the internet, we don’t need to memorize Charlotte’s Web’s main characters or where it took place. A simple web search from a device in our back pocket will tell us the answer in under a minute. What we need more practice at is critical thinking.
Charlotte’s Web Questions
Why keep buying reading comprehension workbooks or dragging through that portion of your curriculum when you can simply download some free discussion questions and experience the power of story with your kids in a fun and connecting way!
Remember, we are listening and reading the book WITH our kids. The author and the narrator of the book has done the heavy lifting for you. Giving you an amazing story experience that you can build upon and then have a meaningful educational experience with your kids. All you have to do is ask these questions. It’s that simple! These questions are the tools to having an amazing discussion.
Simply subscribe below to get access to 10 discussion questions that will take the place of ANY reading comprehension worksheets or curriculum. It’s really that easy.
Don’t be so focused on getting through the book or making sure your kids recall every little detail. This is a bonding AND learning experience. Reading with your child brings you together as a family not just as homeschoolers.
Patricia MacLachlan said of Charlotte’s Web, “There is no better writing about friendship and loyalty.” It’s a book worthy of your time. It’s a book you MUST read with your kids. Don’t hesitate. Enter your email and get your questions today!
Interested in more books?! Click the links below for my reading recommendations.