Story Retelling Boosts Children's Reading Comprehension
teachers and early educators are familiar with the wealth of research
indicating that reading aloud to young children enhances literacy
development. However, studies have shown that the learning experiences
that occur before, during and after reading aloud have an equally
important impact on literacy development.
retelling - the process by which a child listens to or reads a story
and then summarize, or "retells," the story in his or
her own words - is a technique that ties into these learning experiences
and is an effective way to improve children's reading comprehension.
For young children who are just starting to develop their reading
skills, this exercise can be extremely helpful.
on story recall have found that extended use of the technique of
story retelling leads to large improvements in story comprehension,
making inferences, and understanding of story structure. Rather
than having children answer specific questions about story details,
story retelling requires children to focus on the bigger picture
of the story and therefore allows the teacher to see how well a
child understands the story as a whole. By having children tell
the story in their own words, educators can identify children's
strengths, and specific areas of difficulty that arise for individual
While a child is retelling a story, the teacher can help by asking
open-ended questions when the child pauses or seems confused. Questions
such as "what happens next?" and other general content
questions can help the child without influencing how they respond.
The goal should be to encourage students to think critically about
the story and to improve their comprehension and vocabulary by having
them articulate their thoughts. As children become more comfortable
with retelling stories, their language and listening skills will
children's retellings over time can be useful in monitoring their
progress in comprehension. In addition, story retelling can also
be a helpful technique to assess a child's comprehension.
story retelling helps children develop important reading skills
while allowing the teacher to easily assess their progress over
time. Incorporating this teaching technique into an early education
setting can greatly improve children's reading comprehension and
vocabulary as well as help them become more engaged in the reading
The Power of Story Retelling, A. Gibson , J. Gold, and C. Sgouros,
The Tutor, 2003.
more information, look online at: www.nwrel.org/learns
Facts in Action, July/August 2003