What happens next? Raise a reader with predictable books

Books with repeated phrases, questions or rhymes give young children a wonderful opportunity to participate in the reading process.

Learning Stages

Books with words or actions that appear over and over again help youngsters to predict or tell what happens next. These are "predictable" books that help children understand how stories progress. A child easily learns familiar phrases and repeats them, pretending to read. "Pretend reading" gives a child a sense of power and courage to keep trying. And children love to figure out how a story may turn out!

Once you've collected a few predicable books—books with repeated phrases, questions, or rhymes—try out some of these reading tips:

Read your books over and over. Teach her to hear and name repeating words, colors, numbers, letters, animals, objects, and daily life activities. Once she gets to know a book, she may pretend to read it herself. 

Pick a story with repeated phrases or a poem you and your child like. Together, take on the voices of the characters. This part from "The Three Little Pigs" is a good example:

Wolf Voice: Little pig, little pig, let me come in.
Little Pig: Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.
Wolf Voice: Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!

Your child will learn the repeated part and have fun joining in with you each time it shows up in the story. Pretty soon, she will join in before you tell her.

Read books that give hints about what might happen next. Such books have your child lifting flaps, looking through cut-out holes in the pages, "reading" small pictures that stand for words, and searching for many other clues. Get excited along with your child as she hurries to find out what happens next. 

When reading, ask your child what she thinks will happen. See if she points out picture clues, if she mentions specific words or phrases, or if she connects the story to something that happens in real life. These are important skills for a reader to learn.


LeapFrog recommends Predictable Books:

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain
By Verna Aardema, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
By Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle
Henry Holt

Rosie's Walk
By Pat Hutchins

The Three Little Javelinas
By Susan Lowell, illustrated by Jim Harris
Northland Publishers

By Colin McNaughton
Harcourt Brace

For Adults:
The Read-Aloud Handbook (4th Ed.)
By Jim Trelease
Penguin USA