Practical Tips for Increasing Reading Comprehension

3186570_lowPart two in a two-part series by Dr. Connie H. Hebert

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What are some ways we can increase comprehension for readers who don’t seem to understand what they read?

  • Always set a purpose for reading that is meaningful and engaging, as opposed to asking students to read up to a certain page. Falling readers comprehend better when they have a mission: something to read to find out, to figure out, to search for, or to be accountable for.
  • Divide long pieces of text into small manageable “chunks” for students while ensuring they know what you want them to find out.
  • Do not rely on “retelling” to be the sole determinant of comprehension. Falling readers need questioning strategies, graphic organizers, both oral and written ways of showing what they read, sticky notes to identify important points in the text, and open-ended questions as opposed to yes/no questions.
  • Students who read ‘word by word’ are not reading fluently. Fluency is the act of putting words together as we talk. Model this for children by saying, “I’ll read a page, you read a page, or I’ll read a line, you read a line.” Through this practice, they will hear what fluent reading is and they will imitate you. We learn by watching others model for us!
  • Allow students to select what THEY want to learn from the index of a non-fiction text. They don’t always need to start at the beginning of every book. Shake up routines!
  • Teach falling readers how to go return to the book to search for evidence that supports their responses and understandings. Encourage them to do this often so they learn how to search, confirm, and self-monitor while reading.

With these practical tips, readers will be able to experience the success they need to make reading a lifelong, enjoyable experience!

Dr. Hebert is an author, professor of reading and nationally acclaimed teacher of teachers. She has taught and inspired parents and teachers in 47 states and 3 countries and presented at many literacy conferences around the country such as IRA, NAESP, RRCNA, & MRA. Her internet radio show, Help Your Child Succeed: Ready, Set, Read can be heard every Sunday evening at 8:00 PM. For more information, please visit: or email her at



Filed under Academic Success, comprehension, Reading

3 responses to “Practical Tips for Increasing Reading Comprehension

  1. Summer

    Thanks for the tips, these are great!

  2. Janet Watson

    Thanks for the reading comprehension tips. I am currently trying to increase the reading comprehension of a third grade student of mine and I found the tips very helpful.

  3. DONNA

    Thanks to all the teachers and parents who take the time to share their ideas! I have a 5 year old who has recently been diagnosed with ODD/ADHD. He loves to have books read to him, but doesn’t seem too interested in trying it on his on (with my help of course!) I love to read all of the comments, and I try to apply whatever I think my work with him. Thanks Again!!