Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Using Books to Teach Inference Skills in Early Grades, Part 2

This is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. It is the second post in a series of posts on using books for building inference skills. You can see the first post here.

In this series of blog posts, I have been looking at the use of guided-reading-leveled books in the early grades to develop problem solving and inference skills in young readers. I gave one book as an example in my first post, and today we will look at two more examples. You'll be able to easily generalize from these examples how to apply similar strategies to the books in your classroom library.


Book Two: Knock, Knock

The second book that I have chosen as an example of how to teach these inference skills is Knock, Knock by Susan C. Jensen. This book can be used for guided reading and can also be a take-home book to read. Before reading, display the cover page and ask the children how they could get the door to open. Invite them to 'knock' as you open the book to the cover page. Then walk them through the book, inviting them to make inferences along the way.

Cover Page:

Encourage students to ask questions as they study the pages. Prompt questions and answers.

  • Why do you think the picture of the boy and the dinosaur are on this page?

Pages 2 and 3:

  • Why does the boy say, "Who is there?"
  • Where is the dog in the picture? (Answer: outside)
  • Why are the bubbles on the pages needed?

Pages 4 and 5:

  • Where is the dog in these illustrations? (Answer: inside)
  • Where is the cat now? (Answer: inside in both pictures)
  • Were you surprised when you saw the dinosaur? Why?

Last Page:

  • What do you know about dinosaurs?
  • Would you run if you saw one? Why, or why not?

After reading, ask students to draw and write about what they would not want to see if they opened a door and were surprised. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.5)

Book Three: Kit and Henry Like Different Things

Kit and Henry Like Different Things  by Miguel Perez-Soler has illustrations that can be used to predict unknown words during shared reading or read aloud from an Elmo. The book could also be used in guided reading with readers who have achieved the instructional level of the book, and it can also be used as a take-home reader. The book is an excellent one to use for modeling cause and effect.

As teacher you can use this book to encourage problem solving of unknown words as students use illustrations and beginning sounds of words.

Before reading, introduce the characters of the two brothers using the front cover. Invite the children to talk about what they know about the brothers as they study the front illustration. They might also predict how the brothers are alike and different in what they like.

As you read the book to the students, stop at the words that tell what each brother likes and ask them to predict the words using beginning sounds and illustrations. Use a pointer to help the students identify and use those sounds. Explain that good readers use these two pieces of information to predict unknown words.

The last page shares how the boys are alike. Prompt the students to list other ways that the boys might be alike that are not shared in the story. (Sample answers: they are brothers; they live in the same home; they have the same parents; they probably go to same school, etc.)

Invite the students to sit with a partner. Each writes his/her name at the top of a page and copies the following incomplete sentences from the board:

  • I like to play ___________.
  • I like to eat ____________.
  • I like to ride ___________.

Each child completes the sentences and compares his responses to the other students' responses. After the students have had time to respond, invite the pairs to share how they are like and different.

This concludes part two of my series on teaching inference skills, wrapping up the kindergarten portion. Next time we will look at how similar strategies can be applied at a higher level in grade two.

To read the next post in this series, please click here. You can subscribe to our blog in the upper right sidebar to get new posts delivered to your inbox.

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Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection. She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.

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To download information sheets with key features about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which contains the book mentioned in this post, click the image below.

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