Comprehension Strategies for Successful Reading
Comprehension is crucial for independent readers and those starting their reading journey. I have taught children who while reading independently have little comprehension. Our goal is for children to make connections to their own life. This is on top of making plausible predictions and formulating questions.
This post covers 7 areas where we can support children’s comprehension. Each section suggests a list of questions you can use with students. The different areas are:
- Story structure
- Making Predictions
- Author’s Purpose
- Making Connections
- Self-Monitoring & Self-Correction
Children show comprehension by responding to what they have read in ways that make sense. Expect them to respond to what they have read through discussion and questioning. Done consistently means it becomes an expectation and children will read for meaning.
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When exploring story structure with students focus on the sequence of events,. These questions will help children understand that events happen in a particular order affecting the outcome of the plot.
- What is the title of this book?
- Who is the author and /or illustrator?
- How do you know if this book 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 the character’s actions affect the story?
- What is the conflict or problem the characters must resolve? How did they do this?
Help students make educated guesses when predicting and adapting their predictions with these questions. You may ask some before reading or throughout the book. Try not to stop the flow of the story by asking too many questions while reading. Don’t make children feel self-conscious about predicting or guessing words. It will only make their reading progression more difficult as they read harder books.
- 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?
- 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 affect the story?
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, is 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?
Summarising involves identifying important events in a text while ignoring irrelevant information. After reading summarising could involve a verbal or written summary of the main points. Use these questions to encourage students to recall key parts of the text.
- 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 happen 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
Children need to practice retelling stories in interesting and exciting ways. With practice, their connections will become more detailed. It is important to pause and give students time to think when making connections. These questions are another great strategy to help prompt children.
- 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?
Self-monitoring is when a reader notices their own reading errors. Self-correction is the ability to go back and fix those errors. When a child realises they have made a mistake we want them to stop so they can develop a full understanding.
Many young readers struggle to notice reading errors because of a lack of comprehension. Use these questions to develop these skills further.
- 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?
Making inferences is a complex skill that takes time for students to master. It involves them reading between the lines. In other words, using their knowledge to make a guess about the story. They will use multiple clues to develop their inferences as they read and lead to various answers.
Use these questions to help students read with a critical eye and improve their understanding of the text.
- 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 you think for about comprehension when reading with children. Do you have any particular questions to love to ask students when reading with students?
Parents, as you accepted your child’s first spoken words with joy and praise, please do the same with their reading. Children, like adults, learn best in a stress-free, fun environment.