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How to Improve Reading Comprehension: Tips and Strategies for Success

Reading comprehension is an important skill that helps students succeed in and outside the classroom. Reading comprehension is the ability to read written text, understand what it means, and apply that meaning to the knowledge the reader already has. We have found that many of our students struggle with reading comprehension. We have seen our students challenged with reading comprehension from Kindergarten through 12th grade. 

Here are some tips and resources for you to help your student grow in their reading comprehension skills: 

Reread to build fluency 

Fluency is a student's ability to read at a good pace and smoothly. For a child to have good reading comprehension, they need to have good reading fluency. Have your student practice reading the same books at tutoring to become a confident and fluent reader. Rereading a book week after week, allows them to come across the same words and be able to read them quickly and accurately. 

  • This is a great skill to work on for K-4th graders.

  • For K-2nd graders, reread SHORT books together.

  • For 3rd and 4th graders reread a page or a paragraph in a book.

Recognizing story structure 

Practice having your student identify the main characters, setting, events, problem and resolution of the story. Learning to identify these pieces of a story will help your student develop their reading comprehension skills. 

  • Helpful in all grade levels!

Monitoring comprehension 

Encourage your student to monitor their understanding of what they are reading. Students with good comprehension monitoring skills are able to identify what they understand, what they don’t understand, and problem solve to resolve what they do not comprehend. Ask them if there are any parts of the book that they do not understand. Help them learn what to do if they do not understand what they read. Have them reread the section they do not understand. Help them learn how to look up a word they do not know in a dictionary or online. 

  • For K-3rd grade, have students monitor their comprehension while you read to them.

  • For 4th grade and up, have students monitor their comprehension while they read.

Reading Non-Fiction Books

Students need to build the skill of reading and comprehending non-fiction material in-order to be successful in the classroom. Grab an engaging non-fiction book from the office to read with your student.

  • This is helpful for every grade level!

  • Base the level of difficulty of the book off of the student's reading level.

Asking Questions 

Ask your students questions before, during, and after reading. Questions require your student to think about what they are reading or listening to and retain the information.

  • This is a skill that is helpful in all grade levels!

Here are a few different questions you can ask: 

Before Reading  

  • Looking at the cover, what do you predict this book might be about? 

  • Why do you think the author used this title? 

  • How do you think the story will end? 

While Reading 

  • How do you think the character is feeling?

  • Which details were the most interesting to you? 

  • How are you adjusting your predictions after reading this page? 

After Reading 

  • What was your favorite part? 

  • Can you summarize the story in two or three sentences? 

  • What do you think the author hoped you would think after reading this text? 

Learning to take notes 

Taking notes through diagrams can be a helpful tool when trying to comprehend what you are reading. Below are some examples of different diagrams students can use. 

  • This is a skill that 3rd graders and up can work on.

Venn Digram

Have your student use a Venn- Diagram to compare and contrast two ideas or stories. Your student can make a cause and effect diagram to 

Chain of Events  

This diagram is used to order events described in a text.

Cause and Effect

This diagram is used to show cause and effects within a text. 

Resources in the Project Purpose Office

Shared Reading Resources

There are two copies of each book- one for you and one for your student. Some of our shared reading books have yellow sticky notes on the pages to guide you with questions to ask your student.

Reading Comprehension Packets and books

These resources give students a text to read and questions afterwards to help build reading comprehension.

Other Resources for YOU!

  • Reading Rockets has many great articles that are helpful when working with a student on reading.

  • Here is one specific to reading comprehension.

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