The Basics of Reading Comprehension

Published: 08th January 2010
Views: N/A

If you can read every word on a page, are you really reading? Well, maybe and maybe not!

One definition of 'read' is "to utter aloud written matter;" if using this definition alone, of course you are reading. There is another definition, though, which says "to understand or interpret." After reading the page, if you cannot answer questions about the material, you really just called out words. Yes, you must know the words, but you also have to understand the author's message. THEN, you are truly reading.

Reading comprehension includes a number of specific skills. When reading with your children, ask questions that will reinforce these concepts, especially during long absences from school. Here are a few:

1. Main Idea - What is the most important thing the paragraph, page, chapter, story, article, or cartoon is about? When students are first learning this skill, the main idea is usually found in the first sentence; later on, it may not be stated at all. The detail sentences tell about the main idea.

Example: I went to a pet shop. It had food and toys for all kinds of pets. The animal sections had birds, fish, and kittens. I wound up buying some cat litter.

In this example, the first sentence tells the main idea and the rest of the sentences tell more about what happened at the pet shop.

2. Inferences - To infer means "to conclude by reasoning from something known or assumed." In other words, use your prior knowledge to figure out something.

Example: The Eagle has made an historic landing. There are craters and rocks as far as the eye can see. Pretty soon, I will don a special suit and be the first man to step on the surface.

From these clues, you can infer that a man will soon step on the moon. The first man who did that was Neil Armstrong.

3. Predicting Outcomes - If you understand what you are reading, you will be able to guess what will happen next. Reinforce this skill during commercials when you are watching TV!

Example: I took a bath, brushed my teeth, and put on my pajamas. My mother came in to read me a story. When she was finished, she kissed me goodnight.

You can predict that the child will now go to sleep.

4. Fact or Opinion - A fact is something you can prove to be true, whether or not you like it, while an opinion is what you think or believe.

Example: I am in the Bank Atlantic Center. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are going to give a concert. They are the best singers of all!

The first two sentences are facts but the last is an opinion. Your opinion does not have to agree with anyone else's because it reflects what YOU think. Clues can be comparison words ending in 'er' (ie: prettier) or 'est' (ie: happiest), as well as phrases such as 'of all' or 'in the whole world.'

To review, then, along with knowing words, you must be able to interpret their meaning in order to read. Some specific skills that help in comprehension are main idea, inferences, predicting outcomes, and fact or opinion. In a future article, I will write about other reading-comprehension skills.

I hope these examples are useful and inspire your own creative thinking.

And remember...Reading is FUNdamental!

Read up on ideas for 50th birthdays at the 50th Birthday Ideas website. Find information on appetizer treats at the Appetizer Ideas website. For info on arm exercises, visit the Arm Workouts site.

Report this article Ask About This Article

More to Explore