Every new word a child learns and every experience a child has are money in the bank that he can draw on to help him understand as he reads or listens to a new text. The bigger the vocabulary and the more life experiences, the bigger the “account” from which to draw.
To develop comprehension skills at your Read-Aloud, choose books with unusual words and take the time to talk with the kids about what those words mean. Choose books with a repetitive or predictable structure and pause while you are reading to let the kids practice predicting what will happen next. Some books, such as Who Hops? by Katie Davis, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin Jr. and many books by Jan Brett include hints and questions to help kids guess what will come next. Encourage the kids to make connections between the book and their own experiences. Model these skills by saying things like “I wonder what that word means.” or “Gee—what will happen next. Maybe…” or “Oh, this reminds me of the time when I …”
Rhyme and alliteration help kids learn about the sounds that letters make. Rhythm helps kids recognize words, syllables and the sounds they make. Nursery rhymes are also a great way to teach these skills since they include rhyme and often incorporate hand motions that illustrate the text.
"Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they are four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they are eight." -- Mem Fox, Reading Magic.
Why? Because nursery rhymes have great rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.
To build phonological awareness at your Read-Aloud, choose books with rhyme, rhythm and alliteration (words all starting with the same sound.) Encourage the kids to finish rhymes when you pause, clap out rhythms and name other words that rhyme or start with the same sound. Try pairing a book with an associated nursery rhyme. Teach younger kids the words and help them sing along.
Help the child identify parts of the book (cover, spine, title page, author and illustrator), orient the books for reading (right side up), understand the direction of text (in English, we read left to right) and distinguish words from pictures.