Before Reading Strategies
Examine the cover illustration and read the title of new book. Ask your child to predict what it might be about based
on either the cover picture, the title, or both. Ask your child the reasoning behind their prediction and discuss their predictions
Activating Background Knowledge/schema:
Your schema is all the background knowledge and experiences that you have had. Ask your child to tell you what he or she
knows about the subject of the story. Ask them to recall any experiences they've had that might relate to the story. For example
you could say "You said you have a dog. Tell me what your dog does all day and the things it likes to do. What do you
think the dog in this story will do?"
Conducting Picture Walk:
With Emergent and Early readers conduct a "Picture Walk." When doing a picture walk, flip through the pages
of the book without reading. Use the pictures to give you a general idea of what is going to happen in the book. If there
is vocabulary that may not be familiar to child such as "cupboard" or "bonnet" point the words out and
explain them in connection with the pictures and the context of the story.
Noticing Structure of the text:
Where appropriate, point out or help the child notice the structure of the text, such as repeated phrases. Encourage them
to connect it with other similarly structured texts they have read.
Forming Purpose for Reading:
Formulate and encourage the student to come up with two or three predictions or questions before reading.
During Reading Strategies
Cueing and Self Monitoring Systems
Successful independent reading involves integrating three sets of cues. Efficient readers use all three to predict, confirm
and self correct as they read.
* Meaning or Semantics: Readers use their background knowledge of vocabulary and word understanding. They also use
the context to figure out what the text is about, and what would make sense. Readers continually evaluate the information
they take in, and determine if it makes sense.
* Syntax or Language Structure: Readers use their knowledge of English grammar to make sense of text.
* Visual information or graphophonic. Readers use information in the text including pictures and print and other knowledge
of print conventions including:
o format details
o details and shapes of letters and words
o voice / print match
o letter / sound associations
Volunteers can help young readers use these cues by modeling and encouraging them to ask themselves questions as they
For example, if a child reads out loud:"She rode the house into the barn."
you can say:"Hmm, does that make sense? Did she really ride a house? What else could she ride? What word begins
with an "H" that you can ride? The word 'horse' looks a lot like the word "house"--that was a very good
try at reading that word, but it also needs to make sense, doesn't it?"
Gradually, after you have provided a lot of this kind of model questioning, you can encourage students to ask these kinds
of questions of themselves as they read.
* What would make sense here?
* Did what I just read make sense?
* If not, how can I fix it?
* What word would fit here?
* Does it sound right?
* If not, how can I fix it?
* Do the letters and the pictures match up?
Helping an Oral Reader Who is Stuck or has Miscued
Beginning readers often substitute their own words for those in print. While we want readers to eventually become
accurate readers, that should not be the primary goal. Making sense and getting meaning from the text is more important.
Even expert readers sometimes make errors or substitutions in the text without realizing it. Unless those substitutions
change the meaning, you don't have to worry about them. Instead of calling them mistakes or errors, we call them Miscues.
A miscue is any deviation from the text.
Some things for you to keep in mind:
* If a miscue doesn't change the meaning, you can ignore it. "He rode his bike in / on the road."
* Try not to jump in too quickly; wait and give the reader a chance to self-correct or problem solve.
* Show confidence in the child's ability and be available to help.
Some things readers can be encouraged to do when they are trying to figure out a word or get stuck:
PICTURE PROMPT: Direct reader to look at the picture, or to close their eyes and imagine what is happening.
RERUN: Suggest rereading the sentence or phrase to clarify the meaning so far. This can help in predicting the upcoming
word, giving the reader more time to access it.
CONTEXT PROMPT: Ask the reader if what he or she just read made sense; use this information to help the reader predict
what words would "make sense" or "sound right" in a sentence. Then help the reader check the print to
confirm the prediction.
READ-ON: Beginning readers can be encouraged to skip over the unknown word and read to the end of the phrase or sentence,
substituting a grunt in place of the mystery word. "I never ['mmm'] what to give my mother for her birthday. " This
helps readers use the meaning (context) of the surrounding words, and sometimes the initial letter(s) to figure out the problem
COMPARING: Ask if reader has seen a word that looks like the troubling one; or write a similar word, i.e. if the hard
word is "fright", point out or write down "night. " (Be sure to use a word that you are sure the child
will recognize.) Helping the child see that a word part is similar to another known word can help too. A fluent reader can
think "If I know 'her' and 'taps,' I can figure out 'perhaps'" (assuming she or he has heard and understands the
STRUCTURAL PROMPT: Tell or ask the child to notice the word's parts: play-ing; out-side. Help the reader cover the
appropriate part of the word.
LOOK BACK TO PREVIOUS CONTEXT: Sometimes beginning readers recognize that they've seen a word somewhere else. Looking
back or identifying the former context can help the reader recall the word.
After the child figures out a difficult word, or after he or she self corrects, be sure to encourage him or her to
ask: "Does this make sense? Does this sound right? Does this look right?" Once the child is satisfied that the sentence
does make sense, give specific praise for using good strategies to figure out words. Encouraging students to constantly ask
themselves "Does this make sense?" when reading reinforces the purpose of reading: we read to understand the meaning
of the text, not simply to translate the printed letters into spoken words.
After Reading Strategies
Asking Questions About the Text
Engaging students in a dialogue about something they are about to read can clarify their thinking and help you find out
what they already know or expect from the material. Questions and discussion also clarify understanding during and after reading.
One way to begin this dialogue is through asking questions that elicit responses reflecting the student's thoughts and understandings
about the reading.
Too often questions are used only at the end of reading, to check comprehension. In fact, successful readers ask themselves
questions throughout the reading process.
Effective questions encourage real thinking, not just yes or no answers.
Beginning readers need modeling
practice to learn how to do this.
The following types of questions require different ways of finding the answer:
Factual or "right there" questions can be answered with a single word or phrase found right in the story: "When
did the story take place?" "It was midnight, the 25th of October..."
Inference or "think and search" questions require finding and integrating information from several places in
the story and relating one's own knowledge as well. "When did the story take place?" "The harvest moon hung
high in the sky, shining on the field of ripe orange pumpkins waiting to be picked for Halloween..." Using our background
knowledge of concepts like "harvest" and "Halloween" as well as the words "ripe pumpkins" we
figure out that this story takes place one night in late October, even though those words aren't used in the text.
"In the head" or "On my own" questions require bringing in one's own information, (background knowledge).
These can be answered without reading from the book. "We have read a lot of fairy tales, what kinds of things usually
happen in fairy tales?" Or, "You told me you have a cat. What might happen in a story called Puss in Boots? Do you
think it could be true?"'
Remember to focus on the positive aspects of the child's responses to encourage future attempts.
Questions before reading should help the reader:
1. Make connections between background knowledge and the topic of the book: "This book is about Anansi the Spider:
do you remember the other Anansi book we read? What kind of character is Anansi? What kinds of things did he do in that story?
How do you suppose he will behave in this book?"
2. Set a purpose for reading: "Here is a new book about sea turtles. What are some things that you would like to
learn about these creatures?"
3. Make predictions: "The title of this book is The Missing Tooth, (Cole, 1988). Who do you suppose the two boys
on the cover are, and what do you think this book might be about? What happens to you when you lose a tooth?"
Questions during reading should help the reader:
1. Clarify and review what has happened so far: "What are some of the things that made Arlo and Robby such good
2. Confirm or create new predictions: "Now that one boy has lost a tooth, so they aren't both the same, what's going
to happen? I wonder if they will stay friends:"
3. Critically evaluate the story and make personal connections: "Could this really happen--that two good friends
could have a fight because one of them had something the other wanted? How would you feel if you were Robby? What would you
4. Make connections with other experiences or books: "Does this remind you of another story / character, what happened
in that story? Could that happen here?"
5. Monitor the child's reading for meaning and accuracy: "Did that word 'horned' make sense? What is a 'horned toad'?"
Questions after reading will help:
1. Reinforce the concept that reading is for understanding the meaning of the text, and making connections: "In
this story about Amy's first day in school how did she feel before going into her classroom? How did you feel on your first
2. Model ways of thinking through and organizing the information they have taken in from reading a text: "What did
Amy's teacher do when she walked into the classroom? How does Amy feel now? How do you know that?"
3. Encourage critical thinking and personal response: "What do you think might have happened if the teacher had
not done that? Why do you think the author decided to write this story? Would you have done what Amy did?"
4. Build awareness of common themes and structures in literature: "What other story or character does this sound
like? What parts are the same? What parts are different?"
When children respond to your questions it is important to listen carefully to what they say, and to respond to any questions
they may have. Also, if children have misunderstood a section of a story you may want to go back to that part of the book
and reread it, clarifying any difficult vocabulary if necessary, to help children understand what is going on.
You might say:
"You said that the rabbit was laughing at the pig at the end, but you know, I remember something different. Lets
look at that part of the book again and see what it says." (Then reread the appropriate segment of the book.)
"Here it says: 'The rabbit ran through the door and slipped past the man who was laughing at the pig.' Do you know
what it means when someone "slips past" something?..."
The most important thing, however, when talking about a story with children is to let them know that their ideas about
what they have read are important and that you value what they have to say.
Source of these strategies from America Reads