That Expand Children's
Vocabulary and Comprehension
The purpose of this chapter is to describe four instructional activities that are highly effective in helping children develop strategies for comprehending the written language of books and other printed texts. These activities strengthen children's awareness of how language and literacy are used, extend their vocabularies and syntax, and introduce children to new concepts and knowledge related to science and social studies content. The activities introduced in this chapter are reading books aloud, telling and dramatizing books, providing real experiences such as experiments and projects, and using shared writing.
As we described in Chapter 5, young children are experienced at using the contextualized strategies of looking around a shared context, listening, and connecting to figure out meanings communicated through spoken language. They rely on the give and take of conversation with others and on a shared context to obtain clues for understanding the message and the meaning of any new words. Therefore, the most effective way to read aloud to children is to intersperse conversation with the reading, not just to read straight through the book. We call this interactive reading (Whitehurst, Arnold, et al., 1994; Whitehurst, Epstein, et al., 1994; Whitehurst et al., 1999) because it includes a great deal of interactive conversation between children and their teacher.
During interactive read-alouds, the teacher and children make comments, ask and answer questions, and make predictions. In the following interactive read-aloud, Cindy