wikiHow to Teach Reading Comprehension

Early readers need to learn more than the sounds of letters and that individual letters grouped together form words. As they learn to read simple books, they need to learn how to understand what is happening in the story, with the characters and how the setting fits in. You need to know how to teach reading comprehension to help your students succeed.


  1. Image titled Teach Reading Comprehension Step 1
    Show your students "text to self" (t-s) connections.
    • Demonstrate how you copy parts of a book you are reading. Write these down on overhead transparencies.
    • Instruct your students to keep sticky notes close by so, when they make a mental connection in a story you are reading, they can write it down immediately.
    • Teach your students how to code their notes as t-t, t-s or t-w (text to text, text to self and text to write).
    • Encourage your students to have sticky notes handy so that, as you read a story to the class, they can write down each connection they make as they listen to you read.
    • Gather all sticky notes from your students and write them down on a story chart for class discussion.
  2. Image titled Teach Reading Comprehension Step 2
    Teach your students how to comprehend what they are reading.
    • Show your students how to activate their prior experiences and knowledge so they can make connections relating their past to what they are reading.
    • Instruct your students to set the purposes in the story--what is happening and why is it happening.
    • Use a book you are reading and demonstrate how to predict what will happen next.
    • Work on word and sentence meanings with your class. To comprehend, they need to learn how to "decode text."
    • Instruct your class on summarization--building on prior information from earlier parts in the book so they are able to create meaning for themselves about characters, plot and setting.
    • Teach your class how to visualize, mentally seeing each character, situation and setting.
  3. Image titled Teach Reading Comprehension Step 3
    Ask your students questions about the reading material.
    • Monitor their understanding of what is happening in the story.
    • Keep track of what students are grasping easily and what they are having trouble understanding or comprehending.
  4. Image titled Teach Reading Comprehension Step 4
    Clarify and correct students when they give you an incorrect conclusion or answer.
    • Review earlier exercises, such as using prior personal knowledge so they connect their experience to what is happening in the book.
  5. Image titled Teach Reading Comprehension Step 5
    Discuss and apply the meaning the class has decided belongs to the story. Use their answers to assess their understanding as you talk about the different meanings, predictions and summarizations.


  • Teach the strategies your students don't use first. They will need to use each one to comprehend a story each time they read.
  • Think aloud with your students as you teach them how to use new comprehension strategies. Simply explaining how to comprehend a reading passage won't teach them. You need to demonstrate how it is done.


  • Don't forget that, because you know how to use comprehension techniques and strategies, your struggling students need to be taught each step. Use the following model: "show me--help me--let me."

Things You'll Need

  • Simple reader books
  • Overhead transparencies
  • Overhead projector
  • Sticky notes
  • Pencils

Article Info

Categories: Teacher Resources