Help Kids With Reading Strategies

Reading for pleasure every day is the best way to improve reading ability.

Students who struggle with reading and comprehending grade-level materials have difficulty, not just in English and Language Arts classes, but in all content areas. Reading is an integral part of learning. Teaching students strategies for both reading assigned materials, and better understanding what they read can lead to increased academic success overall.


1. Decode new and unfamiliar words. To decode new words, students need a series of strategies for sounding out and reading the new word. Begin by teaching kids to identify letters and the sound each letter makes. Next demonstrate blend sounds together to form syllables or parts of words, and then put these parts together to form the entire word.

2. Use context clues to find the meaning of new words. Once a student can decode a new word, she needs strategies for understanding the meaning of that word. Encourage kids to consider the words around the new word when deciphering the meaning.

3. Ask questions. Students should ask themselves questions as they read, to help them better comprehend the selection. Before they begin reading, students should ask themselves what they already know about the topic and what they would like to learn.

4. Write gist statements. The gist strategy helps students figure out the main theme of the reading selection. It includes activities for students to complete before they read, while they read, and after they read. After reading students evaluate their prediction and create a finalized gist statement for, or twenty-word summary of, what they read.

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5. Use graphic organizers to aid comprehension. Graphic organizers are charts, graphs or other worksheets that students can fill in as they read. Graphic organizers for fiction might list characters, their attributes, and their role in the story’s plot. They might also include a flow chart for listing events in chronological order, or a visual representation for cause-and-effect relationships.

6. Read for pleasure every day. The best way to improve reading ability and to increase comprehension is for students to read something they enjoy every day. Allow kids to select their own books based on their interests. Verify the book is written at or just above the student’s reading level.