When reading informational texts [newspapers, menus, newsletters, science, history, and social study texts] does your child pay attention to the following elements?
*bold prints *colored prints *italics *labels *sidebars *captions *headings *subheadings
Children need to understand that authors use words that are important to understanding the message being conveyed, and they bold, italicize, or color those word. For example, Boa constrictors are reptiles. The word reptile is bold because the author wants to draw attention to the fact that these snakes are reptiles. If the book has a glossary, more than likely the definition for reptiles is included in the glossary.
In addition to paying attention to features such as bold, italicized, and colored letters, children need to learn how to skim and scan texts. When asked to skim or scan a text, this means that attention is not paid to details; rather, the reader scans a few lines under each heading or subheading to get a general idea or gist. The reader also scans bullets, captions, labels, and sidebars. Bulleted information represents significant points, while sidebars provide additional information which adds to the book’s content. Captions and labels provide a synopsis of what the pictures and drawings represent, so viewing captions during skimming and scanning is quite beneficial. Headings and subheadings also help the reader quickly understand where to locate specific information in the text.
It has been observed that children often ignore the fact that diagrams, charts, graphs, timelines, and maps are replete with additional and supplemental information. Parents should help children explore all the information these graphic aids provide, and explain how important they are to understanding what’s being read. The ability to read charts and graphs will certainly impact both reading comprehension and math skills. Being able to read a map will help children pay attention to details and make connections. So many children do well answering test questions related to literary elements, but do not do well assessing informational texts. Comprehension of informational texts will improve by drawing attention to the abundance of information that is embedded or conveyed in print features, organizational aids, and graphic aids. You are your child’s best tutor!
Parents as Tutors