Are there any tricks to help my child with reading comprehension?

One proven tactic to learn almost anything factual is music.  According to Annie Murphy Paul, author of the blog, The Brilliant Report, and an expert on human intelligence, music has been used for thousands of years to help us remember facts.  You used this technique when you were a child.  How did you learn your ABC’s?  By singing them, of course.

Ways to improve the likelihood of facts being remembered through song are to write lyrics that use concrete actions and powerful visual images.  Literary devices such as alliteration (words beginning with the same letter), assonance (words with the same vowel sounds), repetition and especially rhyme make a song more memorable, according to Paul.

Young girl reading a bookResearch shows that there are certain steps to increase reading comprehension as well.  Those steps are to read the title and try to understand what it means; then to read subtitles and boldfaced words and to ask yourself what they mean; then to interpret the drawings, photos, graphs, tables, political cartoons and charts to see what information you can glean from them; and last, to read the text.  If you follow the first three steps before you read the text, you should have a good idea what the text will be about.  You will have created a context into which the text makes sense.

This is true for picture books and early reading books as well as a high school chemistry text.  First the title, then the subtitles, then the illustrations and last the words themselves.

I have “translated” this information into a song about reading comprehension that you and your preschooler can remember.  Sing the following verses to the melody of “London Bridges Falling Down.”

Reading Skills Rhyme

To enlarge or print an 11″ x 8.5″ version, click on the picture.

Using this pattern when reading books with your child should improve her reading comprehension.  And after your child memorizes the song, she should have a sequence of strategies to use even when you are not there.

Let me know if this song helps by responding to our blog.  And if you are interested in practical research on how the brain works, go to and subscribe to her weekly newsletter as I do.

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