I have a first grader and this year they learned about text features. I didn’t know what they were until the reading teacher I work with at his school was teaching it in class! I had never heard that term (or didn’t remember it) though my high schooler said she learned it in middle school. So I’m sharing this with you guys. I noticed my son did very well understanding this concept while many of the other kids struggled. I think that’s because I learned it and could use the terms and concepts with him at home. Connecting what they learn at school with what they do at home helps kids use the concepts they are learning in school.
I want all of us to be informed so here it is:
Text Features: Those features/things in a book or story that help you to understand the message better. Examples: photographs, illustrations, diagrams, graphs, table of contents, titles, bold words, labels (on pictures or diagrams), glossary, and headings, etc.
Now what on Earth are you supposed to do with this information? You ask.
When you read with your child you should actually start by reading or having them read to you the title, author and illustrator, even babies. (If they are at least 3 years old, ask them what those titles mean. You will need to explain the titles at first but then see if they can remember.) Why do this? Because author and illustrator are important ideas they will need to understand the writing process.
Then ask them what they think the book might be about, based on the title and the picture on the cover. Why do this? Because it helps them to begin to think ahead and anticipate ideas. It also introduces concepts like main idea, theme, main character, and supporting characters.
As you read the story, talk about any text features you see in the book. For kids first grade and up, ask what they think the purpose of that particular text feature is. Remember to use the correct terms so that your child won’t be confused between what they are learning in school and at home. I know we are all very busy but these are things you can do while you read with them. It won’t add much time to your nightly reading and will truly enhance your child’s reading skills and comprehension. And who doesn’t want to give their kid an advantage in school? These activities really should just stay relaxed and conversational in nature. If they don’t get the right answers its okay. Just keep telling them the right answers. They’ll learn it eventually.