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How reading stories helps children master science

Did you know that when children read stories it helps them develop ways of thinking that are important for success in science? To be a scientist, you need to be able to ask “what if” questions, make informed guesses and then test these guesses. Children need lots of opportunities to develop this kind of thinking – and stories provide these opportunities.

Drawing conclusions: Think about the stories you’ve read recently. How much of what you got from the story was given to you directly? Often stories give you clues rather than telling you something directly. For example, when you read, “Dan yawned and rubbed his eyes”, you draw the conclusion that Dan must have been feeling tired. You do this by using the clues from the story and what you already know about “real life” – although you probably don’t even realise you’re doing it! Help your children develop their ability to think in this way by commenting and asking questions as you read stories together. For example, say, “I think he’s tired. Do you think so too? How can you tell?”

Predicting: Every time you ask your children, “What do you think will happen next?” as you read aloud, you encourage them to use what they have already read and what they know, to predict what is still to come in the story. Learning to make fairly accurate predictions is an important part of being a successful reader. It’s also an important science skill! Scientists predict what they think will happen when they test a theory they have developed.

Sequencing: In stories, there is a specific order in which things occur: first Goldilocks goes into the bears’ house, then she tries their porridge, then she tries sitting on their chairs. So, as children read more and more stories, they learn about how things happen in a sequence. This understanding helps them with science experiments at school where they have to be able to notice a series of changes that take place and then describe them.

Solving problems: Reading stories to your children develops their imagination and encourages them to be creative. Creativity is very useful when you’re trying to think up new ways of solving a problem – something that scientists do often!