Reading Comprehension

for Early Elementary Students

Have you thought about...?

Do you use movement in your reading comprehension instruction? Have you considered Gardner's Multiple Intelligences? What about wordless picture books?

Common Reading Comprehension Strategies

Previewing: Activating prior knowledge, designating a purpose for reading, making predictions
Self-questioning: Forming questions during the reading process that guide the reading
Making Connections: Connecting the text to self, others, or other text
Vocabulary: Knowing vocabulary and how words work
Monitoring: Checking to see if the text makes sense
Summarizing: Putting it all together
Evaluating: Analyzing and making judgements about the topic and the form


Intrinsic motivation "beats" extrinsic motivation!

Students who read more are more successful at reading comprehension. Young students who comprehend successfully, are inspired to read more often!

Reading Instruction Framework

1. Explicit Instruction
2. Gradual Release of Responsibility from Teacher to Student
3. Teach Declarative, Procedural, and Conditional Knowledge
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(text) variety the spice of life! Expose your students to all kinds of writing. Many students actually prefer nonfiction texts to narrative texts.

Interventions and Strategies to Assist Young Learners:

  • Wordless Picture Books
  • Videos
  • Reciprocal Teaching for Primary Grades
  • Comprehension Process Motions
  • Literature Webbing
  • Story Mapping
  • Five-finger Retell
  • Imagery

Read Alouds

  • Narrative AND expository texts are great!
  • Students need challenging text to practice comprehension techniques.
  • They need to practice inferring and finding meaning...not just recall.
  • Decontextualized language is tricky!
  • Ask smart questions to get students thinking.
  • Don't let pictures and background knowledge get them off track. Use them appropriately. Redirect and refocus.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to highlight rich vocabulary in stories.
  • Use skilled questioning to probe, repeat, and reword.


References for Early Elementary Comprehension Instruction

Barnes, A., Kim, Y., & Phillips, B. (2014). The relations of proper character introduction to

narrative quality and listening comprehension for young children from high poverty

schools. Reading & Writing, 27(7), 1189-1205. doi:10.1007/s11145-013-9481-0

Beck, I. L., & McKeown, M. G. (2001). Text talk: Capturing the benefits of read-aloud

experiences for young children. (cover story). The Reading Teacher, 55(1), 10. Retrieved

from: thtp:// pdfviewer?sid= a7392757-99e1-409c-bc82-cf0901f863dc%40sessionmgr103&vid =36&hid=111

Block, C. C., Parris, S. R., & Whiteley, C. S. (2008). CPMs: A kinesthetic comprehension

Strategy. The Reading Teacher, 61(6), 460-470. DOI:10.1598/RT.61.6.3

Cartwright, K. B., Marshall, T. R., & Wray, E. (2016). A longitudinal study of the role of reading

motivation in primary students’ reading comprehension: Implications for a less simple

view of reading. Reading Psychology, 37(1), 55-91. doi:10.1080/02702711.2014.991481

Dougherty Stahl, K. A. (2014). Fostering inference generation with emergent and novice

readers. The Reading Teacher, 67(5), 384–388. doi:10.1002/trtr.1230

Dougherty Stahl, K. A. (2004). Proof, practice, and promise: Comprehension strategy instruction

in the primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 57(7), 598-609. issn: 0034-0561 Retrieved



Foley, L. S. (2011). Exploring k-3 teachers' implementation of comprehension strategy

instruction (csi) using expectancy-value theory. Literacy Research and Instruction, 50(3),

195-215. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2010.505680

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic


Kraemer. L., McCabe, P., & Sinatra, R. (2012). The effects of read-alouds of expository text on

first graders' listening comprehension and book choice. Literacy Research & Instruction,

51(2), 165-178. doi:10.1080/19388071.2011.557471

McLaughlin, M., & Allen, M. B. (2009). Guided comprehension in grades 3-8. Newark, DE:

International Reading Association.

McLaughlin, M. (2012). Reading comprehension: What every teacher needs to know. Reading

Teacher, 65(7), 432-440. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01064

Pilonieta, P., & Medina, A. L. (2009). Reciprocal teaching for the primary grades: “We can do it,

too!” The Reading Teacher, 63(2), 120–129. doi:10.1598/RT.63.2.3

Potocki, A., Ecalle, J., & Magnan, A. (2013). Narrative comprehension skills in 5-Year-old

children: Correlational analysis and comprehender profiles. Journal Of Educational

Research, 106(1), 14-26. doi:10.1080/00220671.2012.667013

Strasser, K., & del Río, F. (2014). The role of comprehension monitoring, theory of mind, and

vocabulary depth in predicting story comprehension and recall of kindergarten children.

Reading Research Quarterly, 49(2), 169. doi: 10.1002/rrq.68

Stutz, F., Schaffner, E., & Schiefele, U. (2015). Relations among reading motivation, reading

amount, and reading comprehension in the early elementary grades. Learning &

Individual Differences, 45101-113. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2015.11.022