In general, we try to discourage our children from interrupting. Whether we’re talking to another adult or busily tending to another child, we encourage children to wait. The interrupt rule is a great tool to teach our children to interrupt politely.
But there is one case in which I say interruption is warranted, or even welcomed. That is when we are reading. Too often, we shush our children during a story so the story can be more fluid and so we can just get on with it. But I have learned that it’s beneficial to allow a child to interrupt my reading.
When I allow William to interrupt while I read, he asks all sorts of questions that help him fill in the blanks. It enables him to better comprehend the story. Just tonight, as I was reading Alice in Wonderland (and reading it slowly), he asked several questions:
- Can the Queen be a mom?
- What is a Duchess?
- What does execution mean? (The Queen always shouts “off with her head!”)
- What is a Griffin?
- What does mock mean?
I love that he reads over my shoulder as I read because he can see the words that he doesn’t know the meaning of. He can see that it clearly says “mock” and he doesn’t know what it means. It’s not a matter of him misunderstanding the word or hearing me wrong as I read. The next time he encounters the word, he’ll know what it means, and he’ll also know how to read/pronounce it correctly. (By the way, the Kindle is great for this because if I don’t know what a word means or I can’t find the right words to describe it, I can call up the Kindle’s dictionary, and it gives us a definition right then and there.)
As we were reading tonight, and as he was interrupting, he realized something funny (which I think is so cute). The Mock Turtle was telling his “history” to Alice and the Griffin, and he warned them not to say a word until he was done with his story. Well, Alice didn’t heed that and asked the Mock Turtle all sorts of questions. William thought it was funny that he was interrupting me just like Alice was interrupting the Mock Turtle. Cute.
So whenever you read, allow your child to ask questions to ensure he comprehends the story. And if he doesn’t ask questions, you might even say, “Do you know what a Queen is?” It’s important to know if they are truly listening and attending to the story.
Also make note of where your child is in the process of learning to read. If, like William, your child knows how to read, you might point out long, difficult words to show him what the word looks like as you pronounce it. If, as with Lucas, your child is just beginning to put sounds together, you might point to the letters as you sound them out slowly. I also take the time to point out some sight words. We’ve been learning “is” and “the” recently. But of course, don’t make learning to read the focus of your story time. Allow your child to enjoy the story.