Helping Your Child Become a Reader -Part 9

Helping Your Child Become a Reader - Part 9

What Happens Next?

For children ages 2 to 6


Books with words or actions that appear over and over help your child to predict or tell what happens next. These are called “predictable” books. Your child will love to figure out the story in a predictable book!

What You Need

Predictable books with repeated words, phrases, questions, or rhymes.

What to Do

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let him do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as he enjoys them.

Read predictable books to your child. Teach him to hear and say repeating words, such as names for colors, numbers, letters, and animals.

Pick a story that has repeated phrases, such as this example from The Three Little Pigs:

  • Wolf Voice: Little pig, little pig, let me come in.
  • Little Pig: Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!
  • Wolf Voice: Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!

Your child will learn the repeated phrase and have fun joining in with you each time it shows up in the story. Pretty soon, he will join in before you tell him.

Read books that give hints about what might happen next. Such books have your child lifting flaps, looking through cut-out holes in the pages, “reading” small pictures that stand for words (called “rebuses”), and searching for many other clues. Get excited along with your child as he hurries to find out what happens next.

When reading predictable books, ask your child what he thinks will happen. See if he points out picture clues, if he mentions specific words or phrases, or if he connects the story to something that happens in real life. These are important skills for a beginning reader to learn.

Predictable books help children to understand how stories progress. A child easily learns familiar phrases and repeats them, pretending to read. Pretend reading gives a child a sense of power and the courage to keep trying.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202