Early Reading Comprehension

Early reading comprehension is the reading skill that will allow students to achieve academic success and acquire information in all areas of their lives.

E arly reading comprehension is the determining factor for reading on grade level in elementary school. Students who are unable to decode words fluently spend so much time attempting to identify individual words that they can’t attend to meaning.

Learn more about the importance of Early Literacy from our other resources on the subject.

W hen students fail to determine the main ideas and details of what they read or don’t engage in close reading to identify the text structure, features, and language used by the author, they often become frustrated and disengage from activities and assignments because they don’t “get it”.

A wareness of text structure, in particular, appears to improve comprehension of informational texts.

Imagine the struggle for students who can’t tell the difference between an informational passage that is comparing and contrasting with a passage that illustrates cause and effect or offers a problem and solution.

Students who are unable to read for meaning in the early grades may miss this window of opportunity to develop deeper reading skills that will be critical as they enter upper grades.

E arly reading comprehension becomes especially important to students in the later elementary grades because it provides the foundation for further learning in secondary school (Sweet & Snow, 2003) .

A student’s academic progress is profoundly shaped by the ability to understand what is read and to analyze and apply this knowledge.

Students who cannot understand what they read are not likely to acquire the skills necessary to take advantage of post-secondary education and participate in the 21st century workforce.

S trategic approaches for developing early reading comprehension also correlate positively to first-graders’ writing growth. Building strong writing foundations allows children to begin to express their ideas and opinions and to connect the purposes of reading and writing.

Early Reading Comprehension





B y the time most students reach middle school, a majority of their responses and reflections will be done in writing.

The ability to analyze text and communicate ideas clearly and concisely is a requirement in high school.

Students who are unable to construct well written, evidence- based responses to text are unlikely to be as successful in careers that require written communication.

B lended learning holds promising possibilities for increasing early reading comprehension.

In one study (Chambers, Slavin, Madden, Abrami, Tucker, Cheung, et al., 2008) students who experienced the use of technology scored more than a full standard deviation higher than those who received the identical classroom instruction and tutoring without technology.

T his study also supported findings on engagement: students who are actively engaged in their learning have better reading outcomes than do passive learners.

Providing opportunities for students to connect to books and “digital libraries” that offer greater choice can increase motivation.

Early Reading Activities: Early Reading Comprehension

Comprehension can be increased by incorporating activities before, during, and after reading.

Before Reading

Pre-reading activities promote engagement, motivation, and critical thinking skills.

During Reading

Giving students the opportunity to develop early reading comprehension strategies while they are interacting with text helps to reinforce skills that can be applied across the curriculum.

After Reading

Children look forward to reading when they can be active participants in asking and answering questions and discussing what they’ve read. Post-reading activities serve to reinforce the purpose of reading and to deepen comprehension.