“Can you tell me what happened in the story?” This typical question can be asked of your child each time he or she reads a story. Whether you just read them one of their favorites, introduced them to a new story or they read a book on their own for their first time.
Retelling looks different for different readers at varying ages.
Beginning readers might not be able to tell you much; or, they might tell you one of their favorite parts. As a parent, you can foster this sense of understanding through asking them guiding questions. You may ask, “What happened first? Next? Last?” If need be, maybe you walk them through what happened first, next, and last. “What was the problem?” Then reread the text at a later time and ask those same questions again. Rereading and retell essentially go hand-in-hand. “How did they solve the problem?”
Early readers may be able to tell you the main characters, setting, problem, and solution. You could encourage them to make a story map to help sort their thoughts. Just Google story maps for kids and check out a graphic organizer to help young readers jot their thoughts down in short phrases or pictures. You can also do check - ins as you or they read aloud the given text.
As children gain writing skills, they can write down their retell using key transition words such as: first, then, next, and finally. Make sure to check their writing and see if they have too many details or not enough. A retell should be a summary - not an exact replica of the story. Eventually your child will be able to tell you the lesson learned or moral of the story. They will be able to tell you how characters felt and how their feelings changed once the problem was solved.
The development of comprehension is rooted in retell. Don’t skim on asking your child this simple question: “What happened in the story?”