Reading (Comprehension)

Comprehension Skills

Here is a quick list of Comprehension Skills to teach your child how to understand what he/she reads.

Main Idea – the main idea is what the story is mostly, or mainly, about

  • Read the Text
  • Think about what the text is mostly about
  • Ask yourself, “Is that the most important idea?”
  • Look for details to support the main idea
  • Picture an image of a tree: The tree is the text, the trunk is the main idea, the leaves are the details

Author’s Purpose – Everything is written for a purpose. An author might choose to write something to persuade, inform, or entertain you.

  • Persuade: To convince you to think or act a certain way “You should buy this candy bar because …”
  • Inform: To give you information about a given topic “Penguins are birds that cannot fly. They live…”
  • Entertain: To tell you a story that will amuse you. “Once upon a time…”

Fantasy vs. Reality

  • Fantasy stories are stories that could not happen in real life. A fantasy story may have make-believe characters, such as genies, fairies, or animals that talk
  • Reality stories are realistic. It tells of something that could happen in real life.

Making Inferences – Readers make inferences when they take pieces of information from the text and then use that information for better understanding. Readers may also use background knowledge and personal experience to help them understand.

  • As you read the text look for clues in the text
  • Ask yourself, “What do I already know about the topic?
  • Use the clues to better understand what is happening in the story
  • For example“The girl is outside with sunglasses … I could infer that it is sunny outside”

Sequence – placing the events in the time order that they happened in the story

  • Read the text
  • Think about the order of events
  • Ask yourself: “When did each event happen?”
  • Use transition words to retell the sequence of events

Cause and Effect – how and why things happen in the story

  • Read the text
  • Look for events that happen in the story
  • Ask questions like: “Why did the character act the way he or she did?” “What happened?”
  • Look for key words: since, because, so, as a result
  • Remember… the cause is the WHY, the effect is WHAT HAPPENED
  • For example: It was bright outside so I grabbed my sunglasses

Drawing Conclusions – When you draw conclusions, you “read between the lines”

  • Read the text
  • Look for clues that might hint at something but the author doesn’t tell you directly
  • Use the clues to help you figure out what the author wanted you to know
  • For example: Mr. Bear put on his warmest hat before he trudge outside -> It’s cold outside (warmest hat), he’s tired (trudged)

Fact vs. Opinion – a fact is something that can be verified. An opinion is a writer’s own ideas, feelings, or thoughts

  • Read the text thinking about facts and opinions
  • Ask yourself, “Can the statement be checked or proven?” If yes, then it’s a fact!
  • If not, ask yourself, “Is this what someone believes or feels?” If yes, then it’s an opinion!
  • Opinion Clue Words: Think, believe, probably, feel, beautiful, good, and best
  • Fact: She has a red car. Opinion: I think Audis are the best sports car.

Classifying and Categorizing

  • When you classify and categorize you are putting similar things or ideas together to make new ideas and information easier to understand.
  • For example, types of animals, or types of books, or types of tools.

Compare and Contrast – when you compare and contrast, you tell how two (or more) things are similar or different

  • Compare – tells how two things are similar. Uses words like “same, both, together, because…”
  • Contrast – tells how two things are different. Uses words like “different, one is … but the other is …, however…”

Author’s Point of ViewPoint of view is who or what is telling the story

  • Read the text
  • Look for key words
  • First person will use words like “I, my, mine, or me” because I (the first person) am telling the story
  • Third person will use words like “he, she, it, him or her” because somebody else (“he” or “she”) is telling the story.