In her 2019 book, The Knowledge Gap, Education Journalist Natalie Wexler argues that, “The most important factor in determining whether readers can understand a text is how much relevant vocabulary and background knowledge they have.” Cognitive psychologists further explain the role of content knowledge in this ten-minute video “Teaching Content Is Teaching Reading.”
As parents and caregivers, one of the many ways we can improve reading comprehension throughout a child’s life is to strengthen the child’s vocabulary and background knowledge. Try these tips from the Library’s Ready to Read team to raise a confident reader.
Share your knowledge
What are you and your family passionate about? Do you enjoy music, watching football, or camping outdoors? Use these experiences to talk with your child and give them the knowledge you have.
Help your child find out more about the things that inspire them. Reading deeply about a topic your child loves, like dinosaurs, will expose them to lots of great vocabulary that will be helpful when reading.
Reading nonfiction is a great way to build background knowledge. Encourage your child to read widely about many different topics like geography, music, art, history, biography, science, math, and sports.
Check out these nonfiction titles to help build vocabulary and strengthen background knowledge in your growing reader. For more support and a free kit of literacy materials for your birth through third-grade children, request a training with the Library’s Ready to Read Team.