Reading Comprehension Activities

Instructor: Andrea Losa
Learning to become a better reader who fully understands the works you're reading is an ongoing process. Read on to learn some strategies you can use before, during, and after reading a text to improve overall comprehension.

Pre-Reading Activities

Before reading a book or story, try to gather as much information about it as possible simply by looking at its author, title, and any other details you have presented to you, such as cover graphics. If you are working with students, ask them to make inferences about the book or story you are reading based on those factors. Some pre-reading questions to ask might include:

  • What might this book or story be about?
  • What is the author's purpose?
  • Is this a work of fiction or non-fiction?
  • Have I read anything similar to this work before?

Learning About a Text's Context

Sometimes, understanding an author's background is essential to understanding a book or a story. Find out what you can about the author, his or her background, and the context of the work you are reading. If you are reading a work with your class, have them research and present information on the author, and challenge them to find parallels between events in the author's life and events in the book or story.

Breaking Down the Text

While reading, remain engaged in the work, and try to eliminate any confusion you have about it. If you come across any unfamiliar words, try to first understand them by using context clues and then check your understanding by looking up the words in a dictionary. At the conclusion of each paragraph, page, or chapter, summarize the events and establish the main idea or ideas. If you are teaching a text, keep your students involved by assigning vocabulary words and questions on each chapter and going over these together in class.

Organizing Your Ideas

Especially helpful when working with students, using charts or diagrams to organize questions, ideas, and important information from a book or story can help clarify a work. Using such tools as a Venn diagram, for instance, will allow you to compare and contrast two elements, while story maps can help you and your class establish important elements from a book, such as main characters, setting, conflict, and resolution. For your own reading, you might organize any notes you have from the book by writing a few paragraphs that pull your thoughts together and allow you to draw conclusions about what you have read.

Reading Comprehension Practice's lessons on mastering reading passages walk you through a step-by-step approach to understanding and analyzing books and stories. Take the practice quizzes after each lesson and the practice exam when you've finished all of the lessons to ensure your understanding of key reading concepts.

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