Improve Reading Skills: Put It Into Context

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Context Improves Reading Skills

Good readers often have a hard time understanding the book that they are reading. This is true even when the child understands each and every word that is in the book. This is because they don’t understand the context of the material they are reading. It often happens when the story is set in a time period that the child is unfamiliar with. It’s not unusual for a reader to have a hard time when they are reading works of literature that have been transcribed from a foreign language.

The single mom can help her good reader stay interested with open communication. Discuss books that the kids are reading with your child. If you’ve already read the book, share your thoughts and feelings about it and encourage your child to share their favorite parts of the story with you. Make sure that your family knows that you are available to answer any questions they may have as they read.

If you see that your child is confused with the story, you may have to help by encouraging your young reader to find out more about the time period the piece is set in. It’s unfortunate that many schools don’t teach context in literature along with English and reading skills, because it would help the child understand why something a villain does in the book seems so appalling when the reader sees it as a perfectly acceptable act. The opposite is also true. The hero or heroine often says or does something that would be unacceptable in today’s society, causing confusion and interrupting the enjoyable flow of a well written book.

Sometimes the child needs more information on the culture of the characters in the book. Remember that even if the story is set against an American background, there are many family traditions that your child may not be familiar with. If the plot involves people with different religions, upbringings or, in some cases, social status, the differences in the readers’ situation and the circumstances of the characters in the book may cause confusion.

It’s important to remember that the author shapes the story to his or her whim. Personal life experience of the writer often must be understood by the reader to fully understand the written work. Subtleties in theme and motif can seem confusing fluff to a story and distract a reader who tries to figure out what they mean.

Younger readers, especially, may wonder at the freedom the young hero of the book enjoys. The preteen hero may go searching the neighborhood for his lost pet after dark. The child in the book may also jump on his bicycle and pedal all over town looking for friends to help his solve a mystery. In today’s world many children are confined to a fenced in back yard or told they can visit friends who live on the same block. It’s just too dangerous for them to have the freedom of the character in the book and they have to understand why so that the discrepancy doesn’t keep them from immersing themselves into the story.

Once the credibility of the story line is lost, most kids react the same way as their parents do. They simply lose interest.

About Patrice

Patrice Campbell is a freelance writer working from the Denver area. Campbell started her writing career in the 1980’s, working for several Wisconsin local papers as a news, human interest and features writer, as well as a photographer.

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