There have been many products and services over the years touted as ‘reading comprehension,’ when in fact they are merely memorization tools. Many of us have seen – and even fallen victim to – products that falsely claim to teach even babies how to read. When you examine the nature of literacy a bit closer, you realize that the keyword in reading comprehension is in fact comprehension, not reading. When your child comprehends what s/he is reading to the fullest extent, then and only then has that child learned to read. That’s where storytelling comes in.
That brings us to what is truly important: the most effective reading tool is storytelling. In the several stages of learning to read, the last and most important is when a child connects the ink blotch on a page or screen with a picture in the child’s mind. When they connect symbols to ideas, that’s when reading occurs, and using symbols to tell a story is the best way to connect the two together.
For thousands of years, humans have passed down history through storytelling, even before the use of pen and papyrus. Human brains are wired for remembering and learning from stories. When you think about it, a story that centers around a local place links a symbol with a meaning – for instance, a certain rock cliff with a certain warning to stay away, if that’s how the story goes. With effective reading tools, instead of showing a child a physical object in the world, that child is shown a symbol on a page or screen to link with a story. It’s just a natural way for us to learn about the world around us.
Don’t be fooled by memorization – the most effective reading tool is storytelling, and if storytelling isn’t in your child’s reading comprehension plan, look to programs that get this right!