Tips & Tricks

7 Steps To Build Reading Comprehension In School Children

Check out these simple strategies for active reading to build your child’s reading comprehension. These strategies can be applied to any book or story. So, choose a book with a subject that your child is interested in.

The example below features a short biography of pilot Amelia Earhart, chosen for a child who was interested in airplanes.

1. Prepare for Reading

Connecting the story to prior knowledge is the basis of reading comprehension. Help your child prepare for the reading activity by talking about the subject of the book and connecting it to their prior knowledge and life experiences.

For example: To prepare for reading about the famous pilot Amelia Earhart, talk about your child’s understanding of airplanes, recall stories they already know about pilots, or experiences they have had traveling on airplanes.

2. Explain the Story Structure

Help your child learn about the different types of stories that exist—fiction, non-fiction, biography, etc. Explain that fictional stories come from one’s imagination and nonfiction stories come from one’s real life.

Explain that all stories have different parts including the setting, the characters, and the events.

3. Read the Pictures First

Guide your child in learning how to predict what the book will be about by looking at the illustrations. Ask questions to encourage them to look for details in the pictures about the story’s events and characters.

For example: Look at the pictures, talk about what you see and about what they mean. Ask, “What do you see in this picture?” “What is happening?” “What is this picture be telling us about?” “What do you think will happen next?”

4. Ask and Answer Questions

As you read with your child, ask open-ended questions to help them actively participate in reading. Help them to label objects and events by teaching new vocabulary. Answer any questions your child may have about the content of the story.

Ask “wh” questions (who, what, where when, why) to check your child’s comprehension. Asking these questions will also help your child build new vocabulary beyond what is in the book. For Example: “Where would you like to fly in an airplane?”

5. Visualize as You Read

Readers who visualize during reading are often more able to comprehend the text and recall information. Help your child to form mental pictures or images as they read by telling them to imagine a setting, character or an event described in the story.

You can help your child to visualize story events by relating the story to things that they have already experienced. For example, “Remember the time we went on an airplane to visit Grandma? It took a long time, didn’t it?” “Remember how high we were?”

6. Develop Social-Emotional Language

Reading comprehension also means making connections between the text and a character’s motivations, thoughts and feelings. Develop your child’s social-emotional language by asking them to think about the story from different points of view.

For example: Ask, “How do you think Amelia was feeling when she flew solo?” “Can you think of a time when were you nervous?” “What did the Irish farmer think when Amelia landed in his cow pasture?” “Why didn’t he believe she was from America?”

7. Double Check Comprehension

Once you have finished the book, ask your child to summarize the story. This will help to make sure that your child comprehended the story and remembers it. Ask about the main events in the story, as well as the characters, the places and the problems that happened.

For example: “Tell me what this story was about?” “What did Amelia Earhart do when she was a kid?” “What do you remember about Amelia’s airplanes?” “Why is Amelia Earhart famous?”


Use these simple strategies as a guide for how to make reading a more active and purposeful activity. Children who learn to comprehend and connect what they read become life-long learners. Comprehending books can help your child to better understand themselves, others and the world around them.


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