10 Mind Expanding Questions to Ask While Reading Out Loud

timmy_paReading out loud to our sons is great for bonding and enjoying common experiences. We know it develops vocabulary, increases listening skills, facilitates bonding and so much more.

But did you know you can supercharge his “mind expansion” by asking the right questions? Here are 10 questions to ask your child during or after reading a book which will help develop and grow not only his vocabulary and listening skills, but also help expand his mind.

  1. Using the cover art, the teaser text, the inside flap and introduction, what do you think this book will be about? What led you to that conclusion?
  2. How is the author telling us this story, from what or whose point of view?
  3. What do we know about the main character and why do we know this about him/her?
  4. Is the author setting us up to think something might happen, and if so, what in his writing leads you to believe that?
  5. What mistakes and what wise choices has the main character made and are they deserving of criticism or respect?
  6. What does the author mean when he/she uses a certain word/phrase/sentence? Why do you think the author use this word/phrase/sentence instead of some other description, explanation, etc.?
  7. How is the world the book characters lives in different from my world?
  8. How would you solve the problem the characters find themselves in?
  9. What was the plot of this book and how is this book different from other books we have read in this genre?
  10. Why do you think the author chose to tell this story, does the author have a bias or strong opinion that is coming through in the book?

Keep these questions handy and use them. But beware, your child might start thinking more independently and much deeper than his peers. This may cause problems with his teacher who may try keeping him quiet during book discussion time!

Special Reading Nooks

Not all boys want a special place to read, but for some it can be very helpful in motivating them to read, in setting up a good routine and lowering distractions. (But for some it can become a distraction, so be wise.)

I went on Pinterest and took a look at the reading nooks that people are pinning but found many were over the top and elaborate. Built in units, converted closets and outside converted sheds all seemed like a bit much to me.

I wanted something that was quick and easy and could be made with materials around the house as I figured that was what a parent would actually do! Most of us are not going to build something elaborate.

Then I realized something. Boys love to build simple forts. Why not let your son build a simple fort and make it his reading nook?

I assume your son is more than experienced with building inside forts, so I will let that up to your and his imagination. For outside forts I put together a few suggestions. I am sure you son will be more creative than me. Here is what I came up with in a few minutes on a walk around my  backyard:

I used an old sheet, lawn chairs, lawn chair cushion, table, tacks and a few rocks. Quick and easy!

It may be fun on a warm evening to allow him to read out in his fort with a lantern!

I would love to know what ideas you have. Go ahead and post them below.

If you want, you can check out my Pinterest Board featuring some reasonable Reading Nooks here: Boy Friendly Reading Nooks

185 Ways to Give Praise

185 Encouraging Words and Phrases to Give Praise to Your Son For Reading and More

  1. A Big Hug To You
  2. A Big Kiss For You
  3. A Plus Job
  4. Awesome
  5. Beautiful
  6. Beautiful Sharing
  7. Beautiful Work
  8. Bingo
  9. Bravo
  10. Creative Job
  11. Dynamic
  12. Dynamite
  13. Excellent
  14. Exceptional Performance
  15. Fab
  16. Fantastic
  17. Fantastic Job
  18. Give them a Big Hug
  19. Good
  20. Good For You
  21. Good Job
  22. Good Learning
  23. Good Planning
  24. Good Thinking
  25. Great
  26. Great Discovery
  27. Great Work
  28. Hip, Hip, Hurray
  29. Hot Dog
  30. How Nice
  31. How Skilful
  32. How Smart
  33. How Supreme
  34. Hurray For You
  35. I Knew You Could Do It
  36. I like the Way You Did That
  37. I Like You
  38. I Love You
  39. I Respect You
  40. I Trust You
  41. I Value You
  42. I’m Proud Of You
  43. Looking Good
  44. Magnificent
  45. Marvelous
  46. Neat
  47. Nice Work
  48. Nothing Can Stop You Now
  49. Now You’re Flying
  50. Now You’ve Got It
  51. Outstanding
  52. Outstanding Performance
  53. Phenomenal
  54. Remarkable
  55. Remarkable Job
  56. Say, “I Love You” – often
  57. Say, “Thank you”
  58. Spectacular
  59. Super
  60. Super Job
  61. Super Star
  62. Super Work
  63. Sweet
  64. Terrific
  65. That is Dazzling
  66. That is Delightful
  67. That is Divine
  68. That is Glorious
  69. That is Glowing
  70. That is Gorgeous
  71. That is Sizzling
  72. That Makes Me Happy
  73. That Makes My Heart Warm
  74. That Will be Famous
  75. That’s Swell
  76. That’s Amazing
  77. That’s Correct
  78. That’s Good Manners
  79. That’s Incredible
  80. That’s Perfect
  81. That’s Remarkable
  82. That’s Right.
  83. That’s the Best
  84. This is a Magic Moment For Me
  85. Way To Go
  86. Well Done
  87. What A Good Listener
  88. What An Imagination
  89. Wonderful sharing.
  90. Wow
  91. You Are Exciting
  92. You Are Fun
  93. You Are Responsible
  94. You Are So Important
  95. You Are So Responsible
  96. You Belong
  97. You Brighten My Day
  98. You Care
  99. You Did That Very Well
  100. You Figured It Out
  101. You Have a Great Sense of Humor
  102. You Have a Wonderful Smile
  103. You Learned It Right
  104. You Made My Day
  105. You Make Me Feel Good
  106. You Make Me Happy
  107. You Make Me Laugh
  108. You Make Me Smile
  109. You Make My Life Complete
  110. You Mean A lot To Me
  111. You Mean The World To Me
  112. You Tried Hard
  113. You Work Hard
  114. You’re a Genius
  115. You’re a Jewel
  116. You’re a Star
  117. You’re A Step Ahead
  118. You’re A Treat
  119. You’re A-1
  120. You’re Admirable
  121. You’re Adorable
  122. You’re Brilliant
  123. You’re Dependable
  124. You’re Dreamy
  125. You’re Enjoyable
  126. You’re Golden
  127. You’re Grand
  128. You’re Impressive
  129. You’re Inspiring
  130. You’re Invigorating
  131. You’re Lovely
  132. You’re My Dream Come True
  133. You’re My Prize
  134. You’re Priceless
  135. You’re Radiant
  136. You’re Ravishing
  137. You’re Really Cool
  138. You’re Reliable
  139. You’re Renowned
  140. You’re Second To None
  141. You’re Smashing
  142. You’re Splendid
  143. You’re Stunning
  144. You’re Thoughtful
  145. You’re Unrivalled
  146. You’re Unsurpassed
  147. You’re A Darling
  148. You’re A Good Friend
  149. You’re A Good Helper
  150. You’re A Joy
  151. You’re A Real Trooper
  152. You’re A Treasure
  153. You’re A Winner
  154. You’re Adorable
  155. You’re A-OK
  156. You’re Beautiful
  157. You’re Caring
  158. You’re Catching On
  159. You’re Exciting.
  160. You’re Fantastic
  161. You’re Getting Better
  162. You’re Growing Up
  163. You’re Important
  164. You’re Incredible
  165. You’re On Target
  166. You’re On Top Of It
  167. You’re On Your Way
  168. You’re One-of-a-Kind
  169. You’re Perfect
  170. You’re Precious
  171. You’re Sensational
  172. You’re So Creative
  173. You’re So Heavenly
  174. You’re So Kissable
  175. You’re So Much Fun
  176. You’re So Sweet
  177. You’re Special
  178. You’re Spectacular
  179. You’re Such a Joy
  180. You’re The Best
  181. You’re Unique
  182. You’re Wonderful
  183. You’ve Discovered The Secret
  184. You’ve Got A Friend
  185. You’ve Hit A Homerun

As originally published in Colossians2.com.

Help Your Son Develop A Love For Reading

We have heard it over and over, reading is our path to understanding and learning. However, reading is so much more than just gaining academic knowledge. If we only emphasised muscle development as the chief benefit of play, we would be missing so much of what children get from play. Children learn socialization skills, empath, gamesmanship, patience, perseverance, and develop and strengthen certain parts of their brain through play. And so too, reading does so much more than just strengthen academics and develop vocabulary!

caleb_reading_wdadI want boys to realize that reading opens up a wonderful world of friends as well as fun, action, adventure, horror, empathy, understanding and more. Possibilities a boy may never have imagined can be developed while reading. Many a breathtaking journey has been traveled, unchartered areas of the globe discovered, magnificent new friends met, all through reading.

Don’t let you son sit on the sidelines. If he is undisciplined, disinterested or unable to read fluently enough to participate in these wonderful adventures, it is time to take action.

Try one or more of these strategies to help your son develop a love for stories, knowledge and fun contained in books. These strategies will help all boys, but are especially important for reluctant, struggling or disinterested readers.

Expose your son to carefully chosen books. If your child needs to gain weight you would not place dull bland food in front of him. Instead you would fill his plate with wonderful tasting and inviting food. If you desire to entice your child to read you will need to do the same by exposing him to wonderful and inviting books! Not only should you choose well written and well illustrated stories you should also match your child with books that will fill his interests. If your child is a struggling reader, it may mean you will need to spend some time finding books both at his reading and interest level. Which brings me to our next strategy.

DSC_4057Use the libraries and librarians as a great resource. Check with your school and public librarian as they will have access to both interest and reading levels for most books in the library. Trust me, your librarian is used to boys with reading levels below their age (1st grade reading level with 3rd grade interests) and above their reading levels (8th grade reading level, 5th grade interest) and should be able to point you to an acceptable collection of books. And while we are mentioning librarians, they are typically more than happy to help you learn the electronic catalogue systems, which often supply you with reading and interest levels. Ask them to show you and your son how it works. My local library will even show you how to get dozens of free classics on your electronic reading device.

Reading to your son on a regular basis holds great potential to ignite a passion for lifelong reading. Nothing develops a better love of books as well as the stories and adventure contained within them than joint participation. Just your presence alone is often enjoyed by boys and you can really develop a love for books if you read in such a way that heightens the author’s work. Some parents want to open a book and begin reading, and then are disappointed that their child appears disinterested. If that is your son, then start with a discussion of what he thinks the book will be about. Challenge him as to why he thinks the story will progress in a certain way. If you know something about the story, present a question he will want to anticipate the answer to. For instance: “in caleb_reading_wdad2Treasure Island, young Jim meets an “old sea dog” who tells him tails of sailing on the open seas, what types of tails do you think he will hear about?” (By the way, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is available on tablet reading apps such as Kindle, Nook or Kobo for free as are a host of classics boys have loved for many years.)

To help reading times be successful you may need to modify your practices.  Allow your child to color or play with something quiet.  If you allow them to have a toy, make sure it is something simple like modeling clay or building blocks.  Then teach your child how to use their hands and listen.  Ask lots of questions to monitor their listening skills. When reading to your child, express your surprise and excitement. Ask your child to guess what will happen next. Talk about why certain twists and turns surprise you. Talking together helps your son create categories in his mind which strengthens comprehension and can only help to increase his joy of reading.  A fun alternative is to read a chapter together, then have your child read the next chapter on his own.  If you model advanced thinking skills, your child will most likely continue these thinking skills while he is reading on his own.

By reading yourself your child will learn by example. Talk about the books you are reading. Express your pleasure or disappointment in the stories and material you read.  My dear Mom recently died and my Dad has moved in with my wife and me.My Dad and I still talk about the books we are reading! During the special reading times, if at all possible you should participate.

Create special reading times. These can be family times when you purpose to cut off media distractions and read to your son or all read along side of each other. In our family we rewarded our children each night they got into bed (brushed, flushed and dressed for bed) by a given time by allowing them to stay up thirty extra minutes to read. Each of my children learned to love this “extra” reading time. If these special times become routine they are especially effective.

Reward your son with recognition. While all children love recognition, most boys seem to thrive with recognition. If you allow your children to watch TV or use a computer or video game, why not have them “earn” time on those less mentally stimulating activities?  We would allow our children 30 minutes of TV for every hour they read.  Then they could trade in an hour of TV for 30 minutes of video games on the computer. If you want to set up something more formal you can print out incentive charts. You can reward your child for minutes read, chapters read, books read, etc. Develop something that works for your son. Then when your son reaches the goals you set up, make sure they are praised and recognized for the achievement.

All four of my children learned to love reading. While two seemed to naturally devour books, two needed extra prompting. With the simple strategies above you too can pass on the joy of reading to your children even if they are not natural lovers of books.

Do you have ideas to add? Please add to the discussion below.