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  • Writer's pictureRitu Lamba

Conversation prompts while reading stories aloud

This is part 3 of a series of blogs to enumerate skills essential to building literacy among students. Read our blog on reading skills here and vocabulary skills here. On this World Read Aloud Day, we focus on the importance of conversations while reading stories aloud.

Over the many years that I have worked in the field of literacy and reading, several friends who have young children have asked me some important questions: “How do I get my child to engage with a story more?” “Should I just read the story aloud? I’m worried that my child won’t understand much!” “How do I know if my child is actually understanding the story?”

Research has shown that reading stories aloud to children at least three times a week has many positive effects, including better language and listening skills, a greater vocabulary bank, and a lifelong love for reading.

At the same time, how we read aloud to children is as important as how often we read to them. Talking to children about what has happened in the story so far and asking them questions about what they remember, what they guess will happen, and how they feel about the story – in short, having conversations before, while, and after we read is equally important. Here are some techniques and prompts to ensure rich conversations while reading stories aloud!

The PEER Technique

1. Prompt

Prompt the child to say something about the story by asking them about the title, pictures in the story, what they think about a character, or something as simple as retelling a part of the story.


The CROWD Prompts


Ask the child to complete a repeated sentence from the story or a rhyme from a poem.


Ask recall-based questions from the story, like Can you tell me why the bear was afraid of the bees?


Ask open-ended questions based on the story and pictures, such as What do you think will happen next? and What is happening in this picture?

Wh- Questions

Ask who, what, where, why and how questions based on the story, such as What did Pia learn in school? How did Adi feel when Mumma was angry?


Ask questions to help the child relate the story to their own experiences and the world around them, such as How did you feel when you lost your toy, like Anya in the story? Do you remember when we saw a woodpecker in our balcony?


2. Evaluate

Evaluate the child’s response – Is the information or guess correct? Did the child’s response include relevant details?

3. Expand

Expand on the child’s response by adding more information and your own thoughts to it and correcting an incorrect detail. Ensure that you use new vocabulary words and correct grammatical structures, as children learn language by listening as much as by reading.

4. Repeat

Ask the child to repeat your expansion. Repetition gives the child a chance to practise using new vocabulary words and grammatical structures.


unboxED Conversation Cards

Every unboxED Literacy box includes a storybook and a set of conversation cards specific to that story, among other things. These cards provide questions, prompts and expected answers to enable parents and teachers to have conversations with children as they read aloud. unboxED conversation cards help the child build reading and vocabulary skills.

unboxED offers the child and educator resources to build a growth mindset while exploring Literacy and STEM concepts through conversations and creation, and letting kids be kids. These products have been built keeping in mind the academic and cognitive skills needed at various stages of the child’s development.

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