Category Archives: Reading Comprehension

How to Build a Scaffold for Reading Comprehension

God bless teachers.

From what I read online, teachers and literacy tutors and interventionists are working incredibly hard to build the content knowledge required to help their students improve their reading comprehension.

It’s one thing to learn to decode the words, but quite another to understand them.

Vocabulary and background knowledge are the foundation for comprehension.

Trust me, this is a heavy lift for teachers. It’s probably the most challenging aspect of teaching reading.


Because it’s a big wide world out there and there are a lot of words.

The more a child has been exposed to in terms of language, stories, and ideas when they come to school, the greater will be their ability to understand what they read when they are taught.

The most expedient way to help our children arrive at school “comprehension ready” is to read to them regularly from the beginning.

When we do this we inspire their curiosity which makes them hungry to know more about the big wide world and all the words.

And it makes reading comprehension a breeze. It really does.

Reading Comprehension: When Kids Struggle

The Missing Tools That Make Reading Comprehension So Hard to Teach Directly

Why is reading comprehension so difficult to teach?

Because it’s predicated on three tools that are effortlessly gained when a child is read to, yet harder to achieve when they have to be consciously taught.

~A large and rich vocabulary

~A well-developed attention span

~Access to a wider world (what teachers call background of experience)

These tools are prerequisites for understanding what is read.

When a child arrives at school without them, learning to read and understanding what they read can be a Herculean challenge.

Teachers know this. And they work hard to build them.

But the sad reality is that 75% of children who begin school without these tools will never catch up.

A child can be spared this struggle so easily.

Just one picture book a day results in…

~Exposure to over a million words by kindergarten.

~A well-developed attention span.

~Background knowledge that helps them understand what they read.

Then reading comprehension follows. Easily.

For a quick audio review of The Invisible Toolbox by the youth services librarian of the Westmont Public Library, find it here.