Effective Practice Guides

Comprehension and Text Structure: Know

Goals for Preschoolers

  • P-LIT 4. Child demonstrates an understanding of narrative structure through storytelling and retelling.
  • P-LIT 5. Child asks and answers questions about a book that was read aloud.

Teaching Practices

When talking or signing with children, use their home or tribal language if you are able. Use books in children’s home and tribal languages, as appropriate.


Read books aloud from beginning to end the first time they are introduced to children.
“This is a new book for us. What do you think it is about?” asks Mr. Vance while holding the cover so it faces the children. Several children say, “Mice.” Dina counts them, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven!” After talking about what the book might be about, Mr. Vance begins, “This book is called Seven Little Mice Go to School and the author is Haruo Yamashita. The illustrator is Kazuo Iwamura.” He continues holding the book so the children can see the illustrations and begins reading.

Read the same books again and again so children can recall the plot, characters, and events.
The fourth time Mr. Vance reads Seven Little Mice Go to School, the children tell him the book’s title, author, and illustrator. Several times during the reading, he stops and asks, “What’s going to happen next?” Sometimes he asks a question about one of the characters. The children eagerly answer his questions and join in with words and phrases they recall. Soon, the book is one of their favorites.


Provide a variety of puppets and book-related props so children can retell a story from a book or make up a new one.
After many readings of Stone Soup, the children who attend Ms. Eaton’s family child care home enjoy retelling the story while making their own soup. Ms. Eaton has provided two full-size soup pots, several ladles, aprons, toy vegetables, and of course, a stone. There are enough props so all the toddlers and preschoolers can play a role in pretending to make the soup. The preschoolers “tell” the story as they make the soup, but Andrew, almost 3, is quiet. To help him participate, Ms. Eaton asks Andrew, “Can you tell me what happened after youmade your delicious soup?” 

Provide blank books so children can retell stories through illustrations and writing at their developmental levels.
Ms. Zane smiles when Theo picks up a blank accordion book in the writing center and asks, “What’s this? Can I write on it?” Ms. Zane explains, “Ms. Harris and I made some accordion books and put them in different areas of the room. You can draw and write stories on them.” “I want to write a story for my nana,” says Theo. “That’s great!” responds Ms. Zane. “You can even write two stories for her—one on this side of the folds and one on the other. What story would you like to tell her?”


Hold one-on-one conversations with children focused on books read aloud.
Stephen, age 4, is in the cozy corner reading Giraffes Can’t Dance, one of his current favorites. Ms. Nuñes joins him and asks, “What do you like best about the giraffe?” Stephen answers, “He is just so funny.” She responds, “How is the giraffe funny?” Stephen laughs and says, “He dances funny!” Ms. Nuñes says “I see. He dances funny.” She pauses, then continues, “How do you like to dance? How do you feel when you dance?”

Offer adult-made or purchased materials that allow a child to practice sequencing.
Three-year-old Jesse is learning about sequencing. Sometimes he gets mixed up and retells stories with the events out of order. During today’s home visit, his mother, Ms. Benitez, and their home visitor, Mrs. Velásquez, make a series of picture cards based on one of Jesse’s favorite stories, El camioncito azul (Little Blue Truck). Using the picture cards, Jesse and his mom try to tell the story in order from beginning to end. When some of the cards are out of order, the story is funny, but it doesn’t make sense. Mrs. Velásquez nods and smiles as Ms. Benitez laughs and says, “Uh oh, Jesse. Creo que cometimos un error. Una de estas fotos está en el lugar equivocado. ¿Puedes arreglarlo (Uh oh, Jesse. I think we made a mistake. One of these pictures is in the wrong place. Can you fix it?)?”

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: December 3, 2019