Why worry about comprehension?

Reading is more than saying the words or getting from the beginning of the book to the end. Research has shown there are some strategies we can share with children as we read that will help them gain more understanding.


Isn’t that a wonderful word? Children love it-even saying it makes you feel smarter! And all it means is being aware of your thinking. Encourage metacognition by sharing your thinking as you read aloud…

-when I read this part, I was thinking…


When readers fit what they read into what they already know or have experienced, they are using schema. As you read to or with your child, try:

Making Connections

-How can you connect what you read to your own life?
-How can you connect the reading to other books?
-How can you connect the reading to events happening in our world?

Author Schema

What do you know about the author that might help you to anticipate what happens in the story? Does the author like to use surprise endings? Does the author often use the same characters? This kind of understanding really helps our young readers when they are reading within a series.

Prior Knowledge

Help your child think about the title and pictures before he or she reads and use what they know to make predictions.

Identify Lack of Schema

When you don’t make many connections, when you aren’t familiar with the author and don’t know much about the subject, reading is harder. Good readers need to have a plan for this kind of challenge.

-Encourage your child to ask questions about unfamiliar topics.
-Use the Internet, the dictionary and other reference materials to “research” unfamiliar topics or authors.


When readers question the text before, during and after they read, they attend more closely to the text.

Before Reading

What do you think will happen?
Why do you suppose.

During Reading

Why do you suppose…
What do you think…
I wonder why…
How come…

After Reading

What would have happened if…
I wonder why the author…
I wonder where we could look to find our more about…

It is important for readers to understand some of the most interesting questions we have aren’t always answered in the story!

Sensory Imaging

When readers can use their senses to help them imagine what they might smell, hear, see, taste or feel as they read, they get deeper into the text.


Imagine what it looked like...

Other Sensory Images

What kinds of things do you imagine hearing? Smelling? Tasting? Feeling?

Determining Importance

Readers need to prioritize as they read. It is related to main idea and identifying themes. It is a critical skill for students as they encounter textbooks and nonfiction:

Identifying Themes

What kind of message is the author sending?

Prioritizing Information

What are the critical issues?
What is just interesting without being important?


More then simple prediction, inferring happens when readers take what they know and what is written in the book to “read between the lines”. The ability to infer helps the reader get the “why” of the story. We can help our readers to use inference to:

-Think about why a character takes an action.
How a character feels in a certain situation.
-Why an author made certain choices as he or she was writing the book


When you set out to make Chocolate Chip Cookies and begin to gather up the ingredients, you don’t have cookies until the measuring, mixing and baking is done. You begin with all the needed ingredients and somehow, you synthesize them into those tasty cookies that disappear so fast! When a reader can use all the comprehension tools described here to take a book and truly make it their own through masterful retelling, they are synthesizing!