Supporting Your Children With Reading At Home

It is well-known that children love sharing stories and books. The Good Child Report from York University in 2016 shows us that reading for fun most days is something that makes children happy. In school, we also see greater rates of progress for children who share stories and a love of reading at home.

Storytime – Reading aloud

Here is a list of ten things that your child learns when you read aloud to them:

  1. sustain attention;
  2. appreciate rhythm and rhyme;
  3. build pictures in their minds from the words on the page;
  4. understand humour and irony;
  5. use new words and phrases in different contexts  – and later in writing;
  6. learn new vocabulary and knowledge of the world;
  7. think about characters’ feelings and use appropriate voices;
  8. follow a plot with all of its twists and turns;
  9. understand suspense and predict what’s about to happen next and
  10. link sentences and ideas from one passage to the next.

The trick to creating a great story time is to make it truly special. Here are a list of some of our top tips:

Make it a treat

Introduce each new book with excitement.

‘I can’t wait to read this one!’

Make it a special quiet time

Find a cosy spot and cuddle up together.

Show curiosity

Be curious about the book and approach it with intrigue.

‘I wonder what will happen…’

Chat about the story

Raise questions and be inquisitive about the story.

‘I wonder why he did that? Oh no, I hope she’s not going to…’

Link to other stories and experiences

Think together about what the story reminds you of so that your children are making meaningful connections between things they have learnt.

‘This reminds me of the time when…’ ‘Do you think this is a little bit like that book we were reading…’

Read favourites over and over again

Encourage your children to join with the bits they know. Avoid saying, ‘Not that story again!’

Use different voices

Bring the story to life with your voice!

Love the book

Read with passion and enjoyment – it really will rub off on your child.


How to support your children’s comprehension

Whilst your child is reading to you, and after they have finished reading, you can use questions like the ones below to help hone and bolster their comprehension skills:


Questions that explore the meaning of words and phrases to help understand the text:

  • ‘What does the word _____ mean in this sentence?’
  • What do the words _____ and _____ suggest about the character, setting and mood?’
  • Which word tells you that…?’
  • Which keyword tells you about the character/setting/mood?’
  • Find one word in the text which means…’’
  • Find and highlight the word that is closest in meaning to…’
  • Find a word or phrase which shows/suggests that…’
  • ‘Can you think of any other words the author could have used to describe this?’


Questions that encourage children to use their own thoughts, feelings and opinions in order to answer:

  • ‘How do these words make the reader feel? How does this paragraph suggest this?’
  • ‘How do the descriptions of … show that they are …’
  • ‘How can you tell that…’’
  • ‘What impression of … do you get from these paragraphs?’
  • ‘What voice might these characters use?’
  • ‘What was … thinking when…’
  • ‘Who is telling the story?’


Questions that direct children to predict what they think will happen based on the information they have been given so far:

  • ‘From the cover what do you think this text is going to be about?’
  • ‘What is happening now? What happened before this? What will happen after?’
  • ‘What does this paragraph suggest will happen next? What makes you think this?’
  • ‘Do you think the choice of setting will influence how the plot develops?’
  • ‘Do you think… will happen? Yes, no or maybe? Explain your answer using evidence from the text.’


Questions that require children to think about the intentions of the author and the choices they make:

  • ‘Why is the text arranged in this way?’
  • ‘What structures has the author used?’
  • ‘What is the purpose of this text feature?’
  • ‘Is the use of … effective?’
  • ‘The mood of the character changes throughout the text. Find a phrase which shows this.’
  • ‘What is the author’s point of view?’
  • ‘What effect does… have on the audience?’
  • ‘How does the author engage the reader here?’
  • ‘Which words and phrases did ….. effectively?’
  • ‘Which section was the most interesting/exciting part?’
  • ‘How are these sections linked?’


Questions that direct children to find answers directly from within the text. You can often put your finger under these answers:

  • ‘Who…?’
  • ‘Where did…?’
  • ‘When did…?’
  • ‘What happened when…?’
  • ‘Why did… happen?’
  • ‘How did…?’
  • ‘How many…?’
  • ‘What happened to…?’
  • ‘What kind of text is this?’


Questions that challenge children to put events in order or to talk about them chronologically:

  • ‘Can you number these events 1-5 in the order that they happened?’
  • ‘What happened after…?’
  • ‘What was the first thing that happened in the story?’
  • ‘Can you tell me in a sentence what happened in the opening/middle/end of the story?’
  • ‘In what order do these chapter headings come in the story?’

Summarising (KS2)

Questions that challenge children to express information succinctly, include key information and to avoid unnecessary detail:

  • ‘What were the key events leading up to…?’
  • ‘What happened before…?’
  • ‘How did the story open?’
  • ‘What were the main events that happened in this chapter?’