How many times have you finished a paragraph in a book and realized you couldn't remember a thing you'd read?
Here are some basic tools both children and adults can use to improve reading comprehension:
1. Research the topic beforehand
Read the back and inner flap of the book you or your kids are about to read. These summaries give a general idea of theme and what to expect from the story. Whether you're reading fiction or nonfiction, doing a little research online to learn something about the subject boosts interest.
2. Read out loud
Reading out loud causes the reader to slow down dramatically. Hearing and seeing words at the same time helps to reinforce understanding of vocabulary as well as reading comprehension. Listening to audio books and reading along with the narrator is another great way to get the benefits of seeing and hearing.
3. Take purposeful breaks
Break the reading material up into small chunks if you are having trouble paying attention. Read one chapter then take a little break before you read the next. This is a good time to talk informally with your child about what happened in the chapter—or think about it yourself if you're reading alone. Summarizing is a strong strategy for reinforcing meaning.
Purposeful breaks also help you stay focused on the reading at hand and avoid falling into one of the biggest enemies of comprehension - Multitasking!
4. Reread parts of the book
Young children love to hear the same books and stories over and over. Many adults do too! Whether you reread a whole book or only a favorite passage, repeated readings build fluency.
One strategy that works with passages you already know well is this: Read the first portion of a chapter; then, let your child tell what happens in the rest of the chapter. This will strengthen reading comprehension and improve short-term memory.
5. Test yourself
Once you are finished reading, review in your mind what you just read. Quiz yourself about character names, major events in the story, and the setting of the story. If you're working with your child, you can take turns asking each other about characters, places, and events.
If your child is struggling with reading comprehension, contact us at The Literacy & Language Center to discuss how tutoring can help.