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What color is that? What’s the boy doing there? How many flowers are there? Which one is a triangle? 

When we read books with our kids, oftentimes we ask several questions with good intentions. We hope that will involve our child more in storytime, teach them new concepts, and give them a chance to practice what they know. But when you ask too many questions while reading books, this can feel somewhat like an interview to your child – not. fun. 

One simple strategy that can boost your child’s language skills while also keeping them engaged in the book? Balance questions with comments. 

What is balancing questions with comments?

Asking kids too many questions can not only take the fun out of an activity like reading, but it can also make them feel put on the spot. This in turn can make them even less likely to speak, answer questions, or stay interested. Before asking your child a question, try turning it into a comment instead. For example, instead of asking, “what color is the train?”, you could say, “I see a red train!”. By doing this, you are giving your child a model of the type of words you want them to use. Want your younger child to name pictures in their book? Point to different pictures on the page as you name them yourself. After doing this several times, simply point to a picture and then pause. Instead of asking, “what’s that?”, wait for your child’s response or pretend to think for a minute. They’re likely to help you out by naming it! 

Is it bad to ask my child questions when we read together?

Not at all!

Questions can stimulate your child to think about what’s going on in the book and can help teach your child about new concepts. What’s important is to ask your child the right kind of questions

What kinds of questions are best? Instead of asking questions that simply test your child’s knowledge or ask him or her to label pictures, try asking your child questions during book reading that will encourage him or her to think about what’s going to happen next in the story. Or ones that help your child use their imagination. Questions that build off of your child’s interests are also great for keeping their attention and boosting communication skills. You can also ask questions that relate what’s happening in the story to events that have happened in your child’s daily life (for example, “didn’t you go to the beach this weekend too?). 

Asking questions during book reading can be great! Just be sure to balance this with making comments. A good rule of thumb? For every question you ask, make a comment as well!

Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP | Speech Pathologist

Proud Member of The Story Box Family