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Reading with Purpose


Even if you read aloud in your homeschool or classroom, don't get so caught up in the story that you forget to read with purpose.

Do you read with purpose?  Do you make sure your young students are reading with purpose?

Even if your littles are reading a book or a chapter every day, even if you’re reading aloud together, sometimes we get caught up in the story or a time crunch and forget to read with purpose.

Reading with purpose is easy to do, and it’s important for comprehension and memory retention.  And even though sometimes reading should be for the pure, glorious fun of it, sometimes we need to buckle down and pay close attention.

Why you should read with purpose

Reading with purpose can be done with both fiction and nonfiction, and is especially important for textboooks. When your kids are reading a science text and you have a discussion with them or ask comprehensive questions, you are reading with purpose. When they read a biography and can tell you at the end what kind of life the subject led, they have read with purpose.

It’s important to teach kids to read with purpose for a variety of reasons. Reading fiction with purpose can have many benefits for your child.

If the novel is historical, like Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes or something from the Magic Tree House series, reading with purpose can help your child pay special attention to real-life characters and historical facts.

If it’s scientific, like the Magic School Bus series or The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm, purposeful reading can encourage better understanding of scientific processes and vocabulary. It trains them to be able to read with purpose when it counts, say from an instruction manual or a work-related file.

Even if you read aloud in your homeschool or classroom, don't get so caught up in the story that you forget to read with purpose. This free Character Map printable is great for helping your students read with purpose to understand the characters they're reading about.

How to read with purpose

There are lots of ways to ensure your kids are getting the most from their reading experience.

  • Take notes as you read
  • Keep track of new words
  • Make predictions about the story
  • Summarize chapters
  • Use novel study guides 
  • Write journal entries like the ones suggested in Activities for Learning
  • Have your child come up with discussion ideas from the reading
  • Ask sensory questions to help your child visualize
  • Give your child a specific purpose before he begins reading will help him. Say something like, “As you read this chapter/book, I want you to pay special attention to….”
  • Make connections–ask your child if she’s ever experienced something like what happened in the reading
  • Character maps like the free printable below are great for helping kids keep track of who’s who or for thinking about individual characters more clearly.

This free Character Map printable is great for helping your students read with purpose in your homeschool or classroom

But don’t make them read with purpose all the time. Remember, part of the fun of reading (if not all of it!) is getting lost inside the story, in some world you can’t or don’t otherwise inhabit. And I can’t say often enough that reading should be something kids consider fun.

Let me know what you think—are there other ways of or benefits from reading with purpose that you know? If so, share them with me. I’m always looking to learn.

Love wins,


KT Brison
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About KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
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  1. Tweeted this! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday at Mommynificent.com this week!
    Tina at Mommynificent recently posted…On Tour with Manuscript for Murder by Chautona HavigMy Profile

  2. We talk all the time about how we learn from all books; even fiction but I rarely have them read with purpose anything that isn’t a non- fiction book.
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Charleston Harbor Boat CruiseMy Profile

    • I get it, because fiction should be fun. ButI figure if they learn to read with purpose while they’re enjoying the story they might just get more out of it. 🙂

  3. That’s great advice for adults, as well as, children. I can’t read without a pencil or highlighter, especially with non-fiction books.
    Donna Reidland recently posted…“Entitlement, Contentment & Hard Work” July 25My Profile

    • Good point, Donna! I’m super bad about marking up non-fiction, but I have this thing about fiction books being sacred–I won’t even dog-ear them. Or loan them to people who do. I know. It’s weird.

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