5 Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension

5 Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is how we process, connect and learn from what we read.  To attain strong reading comprehension, we must be a active readers. This means we are not just decoding words, we are actively thinking about the content we are reading.  Below are five tips to help your child build stronger reading comprehension skills that will allow them to have a better understanding and gain more from what they read.

Preview and review vocabulary.
– Explicitly teach upcoming vocabulary you know your child will be interacting with.
– Incorporate rich vocabulary throughout the day.  It does not necessarily have to be related to what they are learning about in school. Focusing on even a new word or two per week in addition to their regular academic vocabulary will add up.  You can access BookNook’s free leveled vocabulary curriculum here.

Activate prior knowledge.
– Before diving into a book, get your child discussing their background knowledge and questions they may have on the topic the book is about.  For example, if you are reading Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, you might want to discuss who Malala is, where she is from, what your child may think this story is about and what they might want to know about her.  For a free lesson plan on Malala’s Magic Pencil, click here.  An example for younger children could be for the book, Pete the Cat – I Love My White Shoes.  This story is about a cat and his shoes changing colors, so you might want to discuss cats, shoes and colors to activate prior knowledge.  Activating prior knowledge will make it easier for your child to make connections throughout the text.

Build memory stamina.
– It takes time to build strong reading stamina.  In order for us to really absorb and gain the most from what we are reading, we can not be passively reading text, we must be actively engaged with text.  Start by having your child read for shorter periods of time and work their way towards reading for longer periods of time.
– Playing memory games and memorizing poems will also help children build memory stamina, which will help with reading comprehension.
Check out a few games that help strengthen reading comprehension here.
Additional reading comprehension activities can be found here.

Strategic check-ins.
– Teach your child to stop reading when they feel like they are zoning out and try to summarize what they read.  If they have trouble recalling what they just read, they need to go back and reread it. Some children may do this on their own, but it is likely a skill you will need to teach and practice with them.
– Reading aloud, even in the older grades is beneficial for checking in on reading comprehension.  It is important to check-in and make sure they are alert and actively reading, looking for inferences, visualizing scenes and taking notes if needed.
– When reading with your child, have them check-in with you to make sure they understand what they just read.

Give opportunities for them to read for pleasure.
– Like anything else, reading is a skill we become better at with practice.  If your child is reading something they enjoy, it will be easier for them to practice the above reading comprehension tips.   Allow time for them to explore different types of text and find what genres they enjoy.


I wrote this article for BookNook Learning, a literacy software company.  To check out more articles from BookNook – click here.