The following strategies are useful for multiple genres of literature. The examples and descriptions provided
are based on use with expository text.
By: Kristin Rutkowski
These strategies will
help the reader
prepare him/her for
will help the
he/she is reading
while they are
will help the
they have read and
to reinforce the
obtained from the
• Look over the new vocabulary words presented by the passage.
• Define the words, so that when you encounter them you will know
what they mean.
• This can be done as a group or individually.
When beginning a new chapter in Science class there are many new words to learn. Most
books will provide a list of the new vocabulary words at the beginning of the chapter. All of
the vocabulary words will be defined in the glossary at the end of the book. Before reading,
students are encouraged to create a vocabulary list with the new words and their
definitions so that they understand the new material that is being presented to them. If,
and when, the student encounters one of the new words they should already know the
word, and if they don’t they can always refer back to the list.
Preview the Text
• Skim the passage looking for headings, bold, underlined, or italic
words, pictures or graphs, or anything that seems to stand out.
Before reading a chapter in a Science book students are encouraged to
preview the text. Unfortunately, textbooks do not come with previews like
movies do, but students can still get a preview of what the chapter may
include without actually reading the whole chapter. Simply flip through the
pages and look at any headings, bold, underlined, or italic words, pictures,
graphs, charts, text boxes, or anything not written in normal text. The
author is trying to get the reader’s attention for a reason, the information is
important and meant to stand out. By looking at these bits of information
the reader can get an idea of what he/she will be reading about and what
the author sees as important.
In this sample the author has bold and highlighted words within the text,
colored headings and subheadings, pictures and side notes.
Establish a Purpose
• Why are you reading this?
• For fun?
• For specific information?– What information are you looking for?
Sometimes we read for
specific reasons. You
might need to find out
how tall a T-Rex is. Or
what kind of food it ate.
Or what time period it
lived in. Or how fast it
Use Background Knowledge
• Ask yourself “What do I already know about this topic?”
• Make a list about what you already know or discuss it with others
One very common way to display
information you already know is to
use a KWL chart. It provides sections
for you to write information you
know, want to know, and learned.
Before reading, you should only fill
out the know and want to know
Consider the Text Structure
• What kind of passage is this?
• Cause and effect
Identifying how the text is organized can
set the stage for how a reader
approaches reading. If you know it is
descriptive, you can be prepared for
descriptive words. If you know it is
compare/contrast, you know that there
are at least two main ideas with details to
be aware of.
• Describe your thought process while you read. It will help you
recognize key parts and important information.
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Watch this short video of a
student modeling her thought
process while reading a short
• Fix-Up Strategies
• Sound out unknown words
• Look up words in a dictionary or use context clues to define them
• Reflect or make a connection to the text
Make sure you understand what you are
reading while you are reading it. If you start
out confused, you will continue being
confused unless you do something about it.
Use a fix-up strategy such as sounding out a
word, defining it, or making a connection to
• Use sticky notes or write in a
notebook to document what you think
about a part you just read.
Make note of anything you
find interesting, confusing,
• Even if information is not directly included in the text, it can still be
Information is not always plainly written
in the text. Sometime you have to “read
between the lines” to get some
information. To make inferences you use
prior knowledge and information found
in the text to make an educated guess.
• Make a mental picture about what you are reading
• If you have to draw an actual picture
• Think about what you read, is there something that you did not
understand even after reading the whole passage?
• Make your own question to ask your friends or the teacher
It is ok to ask questions! They help
you understand specific details
and other information found in
Create a Graphic Organizer
• Make a t-chart, an outline, concept map or other visual aid to help
you organize the information so you can understand it better
can help you organize
the information in a
clear and easy to
• Restate the main idea and important details of the passage
By summarizing the text, you show
that understood the main ideas of
• Look in the back of the book for chapter questions.
• Have your friends ask you questions about the text.
There are four types of questions that you should be
able to answer after reading a passage. These
questions will help you with the comprehension of the
passage. They are called QAR’s. Each one can help you
with a different level of comprehension.
• It sometimes helps to go back and reread a part of, or the whole
If you find that a passage was confusing, go back and reread it. The chances are that the first time you read
it you had some kind of difficulty. Rereading it can help because, since you read it once, you should already
know the words and can now focus on the information in the text instead of reading it fluently.
• Bursuck, W. D., & Damer, M. (2011). Comprehension. In Teaching
reading to students who are at risk or have disabilities: A multi-tier
approach (pp. 272-322). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson
• Monaco, J. (2013, November 7). Reading Strategies with a Think
Aloud Part 1 [Video file]. Retrieved from
• Tangient LLC (2013). NBJEnglish - NONFICTION READING.
Retrieved April 4, 2014, from
• Images taken from Google Images