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One of the ways teachers encourage reading comprehension in Balanced Literacy classrooms, is by teaching kids to make “Text to Self”, “Text to Text”, and “Text to World” connections. Another educator-phrase for this is “Activating prior knowledge.” The idea is that if kids come into a text already knowing something about it, then they will be able to understand the content better. You can encourage these types of connections at home when you are doing read aloud at bedtime. “Hmmm, this part reminds me of_______” etc.
Here’s an example of a “Text to Self” connection that my two year old daughter Jenna made yesterday. She is 30 months year old:
We were reading Bumpy Tractor and got to the line “Though bumping’s what I love to do, I can be very gentle, too”. Completely unprompted, Jenna said “I can be gentle. I’m gentle when I hold kitty cats. I held the orange kitty cat in my lap very gently.” She was referring to when she played with her cousin’s new litter of kittens. Whether or Jenna did indeed hold those cats gently is up for debate!