Comprehension Strategies for Successful Reading

A Guide to Reading with Your Child

Comprehension Strategies for Successful Reading

It doesn’t matter if your child is starting the reading journey or is an independent reader, comprehension is crucial. A child’s response to a story depends on their understanding of the text. As a Kindergarten teacher, I have taught children who can read a book independently but cannot answer a single comprehension question. We want children to respond to stories by making connections to their own life, making plausible predictions and formulating questions about the character’s actions.
So, what can you do at home to support a child’s comprehension? 
After reading a book, take a few moments to discuss it. Below is a long list of questions separated into different categories you can use with your child. Please do not use them all at once. You will be there for hours! Select a few questions relevant to the book you are reading. You can use the questions with fiction and non-fiction books, just choose the best ones for the book. If you feel your child shows a lack of understanding start from the beginning and read the book together.
Remember, as you accepted your child’s first words with joy and praise, please do so the same with their reading. Children, like adults, learn best in a stress-free, fun environment.

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Story Structure

Use some of these questions to get children to explore the plot of the story.

  • What is the title of this book? Who is the author and /or illustrator?
  • How do you know if this books is fiction or nonfiction?
  • How did the story start? How did it end? What happened in the middle?
  • Can you retell the story in order of events?
  • Where is the story set? How do you know?
  • What is the genre of this story? How do you know this?
  • Who is telling the story?
  • Who are the important characters? How did their actions affect the story?
  • What is the conflict or problem the characters must resolve? How do they do this?

Making Predictions

Prediction questions help children think about what they are reading. You may ask before your child starts reading or as you read through the book. Try not to stop the flow of the story by asking too many questions during the book.
  • What will happen next? How do you know?
  • Do you think the characters will have to face any problems/conflicts? How do you know?
  • What do you think will happen at the end of the story? What makes you think this?
  • How accurate were your predications?
  • What do you think will happen if… ?
  • What do you think the characters are feeling or thinking?
  • What is the character going to do next? How will their actions effect the story?

Author’s Purpose

The following questions help children think about the author’s choices when creating a story. It is important to see the story from the creators perspective not just their own.
  • Why do you think the author chose to write this story? (For example, was it to inform, entertain persuade, etc?)
  • What message was the author trying to convey? How do you know?
  • Why do you think the author chose the setting of the story?
  • What do you think of the title? Did the author make a good choice? Why?


You can use the following questions at the end of the book to encourage children to understand the key points in the story.
  • What is the main idea of the story?
  • What happened in the story? Can you tell me what happened in order?
  • What do you think was the most important part of the story? Why?
  • Did something happened that changed the outcome of the story? Did you expect this?
  • What was the character’s mission? How did they achieve it?
  • Why did the character make this choice? Could they have made a better choice?

Comprehension & Discussion Games

Making Connections

Use these questions to help children use their own experiences to gain a deeper understanding of the text.
  • Does the story to character remind you of anyone?
  • Does this book remind you of any other books you have read?
  • How did the story make you feel and why?
  • Did you learn anything from this story that you can use in your own life?


Part of reading is being able to self-correct. When a child realises they have made a mistake we want them to stop so they can develop a full understanding.
  • Does that sound right?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Do the illustrations help you understand the story?
  • What parts of the story didn’t you understand? Go back and reread to make sense.
  • If you don’t understand something what strategies could you use to help?
  • Why did you stop reading?


These questions help children think about the story at a deeper level and understand the author’s message.

  • What was the message of the story?
  • What was the main feeling in the story (eg was it happy, sad)? How do you know this?
  • Why did the character choose to do _______? Why?
  • Did you agree when the character chose to ______?
  • Tell me about some of the emotions the characters experience.

I hope these questions will help build your child’s understanding and confidence when discussing books. Let me know what questions you ask when reading with your child.

Comprehension Strategies for Successful Reading
Strategies to Help When Children Make Reading Errors

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