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What Experts Say

“By the time children enter second grade, they also need to have solid comprehension skills, both for understanding material they read on their own and for material that is read to them. They need to be able to understand a beginning second-grade text they haven't seen before, and they need to learn to monitor their own comprehension for confusion and uncertainty.

As they progress through second-grade and beyond, children need to develop a real joy of reading and to read a wide variety of materials, expository (nonfiction) as well as narrative. Through such reading, children will develop greater fluency, vocabulary, background knowledge, comprehension strategies, and writing skills.”

“Reading is often thought of as a hierarchy of skills, from processing of individual letters and their associated sounds to word recognition to text-processing competencies. Skilled comprehension requires fluid articulation of all these processes, beginning with the sounding out and recognition of individual words to the understanding of sentences in paragraphs as part of much longer texts. There is instruction at all of these levels that can be carried out so as to increase student understanding of what is read.”

“Good readers are extremely active as they read, as is apparent whenever excellent adult readers are asked to think aloud as they go through text (Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995). Good readers are aware of why they are reading a text, gain an overview of the text before reading, make predictions about the upcoming text, read selectively based on their overview, associate ideas in text to what they already know, note whether their predictions and expectations about text content are being met, revise their prior knowledge when compelling new ideas conflicting with prior knowledge are encountered, figure out the meanings of unfamiliar vocabulary based on context clues, underline and reread and make notes and paraphrase to remember important points, interpret the text, evaluate its quality, review important points as they conclude reading, and think about how ideas encountered in the text might be used in the future. Young and less skilled readers, in contrast, exhibit a lack of such activity (e.g., Cordón & Day, 1996).”

“Reading researchers have developed approaches to stimulating active reading by teaching readers to use comprehension strategies. Of the many possible strategies, the following often produce improved memory and comprehension of text in children: generating questions about ideas in text while reading; constructing mental images representing ideas in text; summarizing; and analyzing stories read into story grammar components of setting, characters, problems encountered by characters, attempts at solution, successful solution, and ending (Pearson & Dole, 1987; Pearson & Fielding, 1991; Pressley, Johnson, Symons, McGoldrick, & Kurita, 1989).”