A Simple Way to Help Your Child Become A Better Reader (No Books Necessary!)

I am excited to be guest blogging here at Imagination Soup! My name is Danielle. You can usually find me at my blog, 52 Brand New, where I chronicle my family’s adventures as we try a new experience each week of the year.

There are tons of products and ideas on the market to help your child become a better reader. Sure, you can buy flashcards, workbooks, games, you name it. But, there is one easy way to help your child read with more understanding. It doesn’t require a degree in education, doesn’t involve making worksheets, and doesn’t even have to cost money. You simply need to expose your child to new experiences.

a simple way to become a better reader

New Experiences Build Background Knowledge

Why are new experiences helpful to young readers? New experiences builds background knowledge, an essential skill in reading comprehension.

Imagine you were asked to read a book about Einstein’s theory of relativity. Unless you already know a lot about astronomy and physics, this book would be very difficult for you to understand. Now, imagine you are a first grader who is asked to read a book about a day at the beach. If you have never walked on sand, heard the waves crash on the shore, or tasted the salt air, it will be hard to make sense of what you have read because you don’t have the background knowledge needed to truly appreciate it.

As parents, we can help our children grow their background knowledge by exposing our children to as new experiences. It opens their minds to new ideas and vocabulary.

Recently, my kids and I tried baking bread. As we were baking, I realized the learning in this simple activity.  Typically we buy sliced bread at the supermarket, so my children didn’t know the ingredients to make bread,  proofing yeast, or kneading dough. My kids learned new vocabulary: yeast, knead, and rise.

Once I realized that baking bread was more of a learning experience than I had anticipated, we read The Little Red Hen together. They comprehended the story so much more than before they’d made bread.

Try New Experiences

Don’t feel that you don’t have time to do an extensive project with your children?
– Go for a walk near a pond and look for tadpoles.
– Visit your local children’s museum.
– Go to an ethnic restaurant and eat food you’ve never tried before.
The possibilities for expanding your child’s background knowledge are endless.

Once you complete your new activity, find a book to read that relates to the activity. Before reading, ask your children about the new experience. This activates the knowledge that they have recently acquired. As you read, ask your children how the book is similar to their experience. Also discuss the differences they notice. Making these connections deepens their comprehension.

Sharing a new experience with your children can help them become better readers and more knowledgeable students. Most of all, experiencing something new with your children is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family.

Bio: Danielle Greco is a stay at home mother to two wonderful children, ages 6 and 4. She is a certified reading specialist and elementary school teacher with over 10 years of experience in her field. She invites you to visit her blog, 52 Brand New. You may like to read 5 Reasons to Try Something New With Your Child Today and 10 Ways to Expand Your Child’s Comfort Zone.


How to help your child understand what he reads, part one

How to help your child understand what he reads, part two


  1. says

    Danielle, you hit it spot on! Amazing post! AND SOOOOOO true! As parents, I think all of us need to be reminded of the importance of doing a wide variety of activities with our children! Not only does it enrich their lives but it evolves them as well. Very inspiring!

  2. Thallia says

    Actually, this is very true.. A lot of people especially the parents should be aware with this and I am sure it can help their kids be a better reader..

  3. says

    Hi, Danielle. I love this blog of yours. I will definitely visit you in your blog site. Talking to the subject, it is really good to allow your kids expose to other new experiences. When you let your kids engage in baking bread, they must need to familiar the ingredients and read the steps in making it. Doing this one can greatly enhance their reading skills. This is very effective technique.

  4. says

    Love this perspective! I am a strong believer in exposing your children to new experiences. I have always known it develops their fearlessness, confidence and just overall knowledge, but I have never really connected it to improving their reading skills. It really connects the dots nicely! Thanks! Looking forward to connecting with you on your site.

  5. Heidi19 says

    This so exciting! Thanks for posting your wonderful experience.. Every now and then a family should make time with each other, especially parents to their kids.

  6. says

    Thank you for the kind words! I hope you will all find a fun new experience to try this week with your children! I have a feeling you will enjoy your time together as much as your children will!

  7. says

    What a great reminder to parents, Danielle! When I taught writing in fourth grade (and it was tested) the students were given a writing prompt that day and asked to create a story. So often the students didn’t have any background knowledge about what they needed to write about, so it was always so difficult. New experiences are such a great way to build that up! Well said!

  8. Born27 says

    Thanks for this post Danielle! I really appreciate the fact that you are encourage parents to teach their kids to learn on something. That is why I really make sure that I have time for my kid.

  9. says

    I love this concept and practice it myself personally with my 2 daughters and professionally with my company, Page’s Corner. Page’s is a learning company that pairs a book with activities and crafts. The experience of working with your hands and being interactive helps reinforce the themes of the chosen book. Anything to aid in the learning/reading/literacy process in a positive way!

    I would like to link your piece to my blog post today….pagescorner.tumblr.com.

    Thank you!

  10. says

    I love your connection here! Experiences are important to our family, I think it’s part of the reason why my sons vocabulary is so large!

  11. says

    This is a great article. It is so important for children to have prior knowledge of a subject. It gives them much more understanding and personal connection to what they are reading!


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