Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Improve Reading Comprehension with Paired Texts About Food, Part 2

By Nancy Brekke, Reading Interventionist, Guest Blogger

I'm excited to continue with the second part of a two-part blog post series about how you can teach reading comprehension strategies by using paired texts about food. In today's post, I'll provide details for you to help students practice reading books in the K–L guided reading level range. If you missed the first part, in which I talk about how you can use level J books to improve students' reading comprehension, you can find it here:  Improve Reading Comprehension with Paired Texts About Food, Part 1 .

Have you ever considered using fairy tales to help struggling readers? You can optimize a level K narrative text, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears , to help kids practice reading skills that include making inferences and vocabulary development, and asking wh- questions. Then you can pair the narrative text with a nonfiction book for kids, such as Breakfast Around the World (guided reading level L), to help kids improve their ability to activate prior knowledge and make real-world connections. Keep reading to find out how you can incorporate these K–L leveled readers from Story World Real World to help your students meet state standards in a fun and effortless way.

Comprehension Strategy Instruction with Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Making inferences is a strategy that requires kids to draw conclusions by "reading between the lines" and using clues from context of the text and illustrations. Students can also practice this by making predictions and finding meanings of unknown words. Below are some tips for comprehension strategy instruction that you can use to help students practice critical reading skills in your guided reading lesson.

  • Using Picture Clues: Students may not be familiar with the word porridge on page 2, so have students look ahead to page 4 to see a picture of porridge. Ask the students they can think of what is inside each bowl, and focus their attention on the steam rising from the purple bowl. Explain that porridge is similar to oatmeal.
  • Making Predictions: Read the text on page 3 and encourage students to observe the detail of the scent trailing in the air from inside the house. Then have students make a prediction about where Goldilocks will go since she says, "Mm! I smell porridge!"
  • Connecting to the Text: After reading through page 7, help kids make personal connections with the text by encouraging them to answer the following questions with a partner:
    • Have you ever gone for a walk in the woods? What did you see? Hear? Smell?
    • Have you ever eaten porridge or something similar? Did you like it?
    • Have you ever accidentally broken something? What did you break? How did you feel? Did you tell anyone about it?
  • Using Wh- Questions: Teaching kids to ask questions that begin with who , what , where , when , why , and how is another important reading comprehension strategy that you can easily practice with Goldilocks and the Three Bears . You can make sets of index cards for each student, or each pair of students, that have each question word written on one side. Have kids show the appropriate question card when they ask questions about important ideas and events in the text as they read.
  • Visualizing: Visualizing is a reading comprehension strategy that also works well with reading a fiction book like Goldilocks and the Three Bears . To do this, have students close their eyes and tell them to picture a movie in their minds as you read aloud. After reading the book to the class, have them open their eyes. Then pair each student with a partner to practice retelling the story. As an alternative, encourage each student to make a storyboard by first showing them how to fold a piece of unlined paper into eight sections. Then explain that they will need to illustrate each part of the story within each section of their storyboard sheet as you read aloud. This will be a fun way for kids to work on their comprehension skills while increasing their love of reading!

Using Nonfiction Text Features to Make Meaning of Ideas in a Fairy Tale

To help your students deepen their understanding of the ideas presented in Goldilocks and the Three Bears , show them the cover of Breakfast Around the World and ask, What is similar about these two books?  They should be able to identify that the paired texts talk about what can be eaten for breakfast. Then use the following suggestions to help kids understand the importance of nonfiction text features as you continue reading Breakfast Around the World :
  • Have the students turn to the table of contents and encourage them to read aloud the titles of section in the leveled reader.
  • Next, turn to the map on pages 4–5. Ask students why they think there are children's pictures with arrows on some areas of the map. This can be helpful to encourage students to make inferences about breakfast eaten in different parts of the world.
  • As you continue reading through pages 9–13, briefly discuss the information box at the bottom of each page. Explain that these information boxes will help them pronounce the word for each food eaten for breakfast by children around the world.

Using paired texts at different levels gives your students ample opportunity to practice important comprehension and inference-making strategies, such as using picture clues, predicting, figuring out the meaning of unknown words, and asking questions. Please visit us soon for more valuable lesson ideas and tips to help your students!

Nancy has taught grades 1–6, ESL students, and Reading Recovery. She is also a Reading Interventionist and an author of several titles in our Kaleidoscope Collection .