Teaching reading comprehension

Does anyone use a formal reading comprehension program/work book? We use AAR 2, but I want to add comprehension in more. Any ideas/suggestions?

@luvmyboys I approach reading comprehension from a different perspective, because my daughter struggles in this area. She has learning challenges. She can sight read high school level books, but has virtually no understanding of what those words mean. She should be in 6th grade (by age) but by ability, she’s closer to a third/fourth grader. So here is what I have done:

1/ We started at sentence level comprehension. (I read sentence. She reads sentence out loud and then tells me what it means.) Then we worked up to paragraph level, with her paraphrasing what she remembers.

2/ Sticky notes. For kids who have a hard time holding information while they read, this is a way of “remembering”. So as we read a chapter book, she tells me (paraphrases) what she understood. Key points go on sticky notes.

3/ Audiobooks. She doesn’t have to focus so much on the words (but follows along) and it seems to help her process info.

4/ Comprehension cards - which we purchased on Amazon. Front side is about 4-5 paragraphs and back side is 5 questions about what we read. I ask her questions first and then we read. It helps her pick out the info she will be asked. (front-loading info).

5/ Vocabulary. The more words they know, the more fluent the reading and the better the understanding. I make sure that she knows the words or, if I’m not sure, we learn the words before we do the reading.

Those are some basic ideas of what has worked for us. I hope it helps… :smile:


I am always so excited when I see I have a response from you Kathi! Your suggestions are always outstanding:) Question, for the Vocab words, do you just choose them from her reading? Also, are the comp cards from Educational Insights?

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We are using AAR as well - just finished up level 2. And I do have to say the stories in level 2 readers are much more “story-like” than level 1 (obviously because they can read more words) so they COULD tell me after each story what it was about pretty well.

Last year (1st grade) - we used Writing With Ease (Peace Hill Press) for writing (stay with me here… I know you didn’t ask about writing…) But I realized while going through it - that it works really well for Reading Comprehension also. Basically, there is a passage from a book/story and the child is supposed to verbally answer questions regarding their understanding of the story - and then do some copywork from the passage. I believe this made a difference in their reading comprehension - even if you didn’t do the copywork involved - just the exercise involved of reading something and then answering those questions would get them going in comprehension.

Vocabulary also makes a big difference - but I just make sure when I do read alouds (every night before bedtime) that I pick good literature. They will stop me and ask what a word means, or I will stop if there’s a word that can’t be easily understood even by context of the rest of the story.

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We use the A Beka reading program. All of the books have comprehension questions for each story, and most of the stories have an introduction of vocabulary or difficult words. They have beautiful illustrations. Also there are the Read and Think Skill Sheets for 3rd-6th grades, wich are more a kind of workbook or reading quizes. You can see sample pages at their website. https://www.abeka.com/ABekaOnline/ProductSearch.aspx?grade=&subject=READ&title=&sbn=&ods=

@luvmyboys Thanks! That’s nice to hear.

Vocab words are chosen from what we will be reading (pre-teaching so we don’t struggle as we read).

Comprehension cards are from Learning Resources. Here is a link to the Amazon site:

We did try Reading Detective, but it was a struggle for her, so we stopped using it. Others have reported great success with it, though it wasn’t helpful to us.


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I looked at the Educational Insights cards and those look pretty good, too. They seem more targeted to specific areas of comprehension, whereas the ones I am doing are more generalized. I do use a workbook for those targeted areas, though. It is the Steck-Vaughn Critical Thinking Series.

@Jeepchick thanks for the ideas! I have heard from a few moms about Vocab, I definatley plan on implementing it somehow! Did you start with WRiting With Ease level 1?

@KathiJohnson I just ordered the comp cards:) I think for my son, ASD, I would need to make the vocab words very concrete…any ideas? I thought about maybe just writing the word on an index card, reviewing those prior to the reading, giving examples of the word in real life…hmmm…

My son is working between grade 1-2, but I love the Read and Think books! I think I could prob find the A Beka readers used for a good price. Thanks for the suggestion!

That is exactly how I did it @Luvmyboys Write the word on index card. Use it in a sentence (preferably the one he will encounter during reading). Find a synonym if possible. Brooke doesn’t have autism, but she also needs things to be done at concrete level.

Find a synonym! Wonderful idea😃

Yes - I did. And the workbook is really all you need if you’re just going to use it for comprehension like I said above. Barnes & Noble sells it - if you have that store close you could take a look at the book before buying. Peace Hill Press (the publisher) also has samples on their site.

I’ve been looking into comprehension work too, especially for my 4th grade son. Its one of the main reasons I’ve been searching high & low for an inclusive language arts program that includes literature and comprehension with it.
We tried Reading Detective, but it just didn’t work for us. I have heard good things about Comprehension Plus from Modern Curriculum Press. Has anyone tried that?

We use Pathway Readers and workbooks. My oldest loves them - she’s the only one using them at this time. The stories are good and sound, I’m happy to have her reading these. Then the workbooks work really well for comprehension and attention skills. There is a page for Working with Words, one for Learning through Sounds, and one for Thinking about the Story.
I have to say that Learning through Sounds works best if they are familiar with/learning dictionary respellings, which we do learn from our Climbing to Good English from Schoolaid. All these items we purchased from www.milestonesbooks.com.

We are going to try something new next year (we haven’t focused on Reading Comprehension much before now–we have just used AAR for reading lessons). We are going to incorporate Nonfiction Reading Comprehension: Social Studies for my 1st and 3rd Grader. These are true Social Studies stories combined with comprehension questions at the end, similar to the type of comprehension questions you might see on a standardized test (I am not sure they will ever need to take one, but if they do I’d like them to be prepared for those types of questions). And for fun, I purchased Hot Dots Reading Informational Text with comprehension questions (these are nonfiction comprehension passages in science, social studies, and math) as something to keep one occupied while I teach the other in another subject. With the talking Hot Dots pen I figured they’d have fun while learning comprehension :slight_smile:

@Forchristandkids Hot Dots would be fun! I always forget about that😋

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We do something similar also. My boys read a book at their reading level. For the younger one, he has moved from sentence level retell to paragraph level retell to page level retell. He has to do a sticky note per page about what happened on that page. All of them require him to do a few sentence retell at the end of the chapter. My older son has moved through all of that to paragraphs at the end of the chapter. Each paragraph has a topic sentence with three supporting details from the book with importance of each and a conclusion. As he reads, I have a form he fills out with vocab words on one side (words he doesn’t know he looks up the definition and writes it down) and a chart for the important details and importance on the other. We don’t use a formal curriculum, just the books that are at their reading level. I also switch between reading fiction and nonfiction.

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