What Is Reading Comprehension? A Simple Guide

What Is Reading Comprehension? A Simple Guide

November 23, 2021
what is reading comprehension

The ultimate goal of reading comprehension is to derive meaning from what you are reading. Proficient readers might take this for granted, but being able to understand and apply what you are reading is an important skill to master. 

Instead of passively reading text, readers have to examine, internalize, and personalize it. You might be wondering what exactly reading comprehension is and what it entails. Keep reading to find out!

What Is Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension refers to the capacity to read, process, and comprehend text. The ability to comprehend written words is referred to as comprehension. It’s different from just being able to  recognize words. Recognizing words on a page but not understanding their meaning is not comprehension, which is really the aim or goal of reading. 

Consider the situation where a teacher assigns a child text to read:

A child can read the full chapter, but when asked to explain what they have read, he or she has no idea. The actual meaning of what has been read hasn’t been understood by the child.

When words on a page aren’t just words, but concepts and ideas, reading comprehension has occurred. This is the goal. Then a child can read the full chapter, recognizing the words, but also understanding what the writing means.

Reading Comprehensi

Elements of Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension process is made up of two parts: vocabulary knowledge and text comprehension. The reader should be able to comprehend the vocabulary used throughout the text in order to fully understand it. 

A child must be able to comprehend each individual word in a text as well as understand them when put together in the sentence. This way they are getting an overall understanding of what the author is attempting to communicate. Text comprehension means understanding what the words mean when you use them together in a sentence, not just understanding them as individual words. 

Why Is Reading Comprehension Important?

It is critical to have great reading comprehension skills for several reasons. First, it improves the fun and efficacy of reading. This is beneficial not only in the classroom, but also in the workplace and in one’s personal life. Individuals read for a variety of reasons, but comprehension is crucial for each one. Without comprehension, reading provides little value to the reader.

Second, functioning in a community necessitates the ability to comprehend what is read. Consider the consequences of not being able to understand the dose instructions on a prescription bottle or the precautions on a container containing hazardous chemicals. People who can understand what they read can not only live productively, but they are also able to pursue emotional, social, and intellectual development.

Comprehension Strategies

There are a variety of tactics that can be used to improve reading comprehension. When adopting these tactics, patience and coaching are required. Remember to exemplify the method as well as provide instructional support when working with children. Reduce your supervision as their abilities improve. The idea is for people to instinctively use the reading comprehension tactics on their own.

Here is our list of comprehension strategies that you may find useful for improving reading comprehension:

Previewing/ Using Prior Knowledge

Making connections to existing information entails connecting a new concept to previously acquired experience and knowledge. It means readers connect their own life experiences to what is in the story. 

The idea is for students to apply prior knowledge to assist them to understand the content they are currently reading. Prior knowledge might include their personal experiences as well as their understanding of words, events, animals, and places. 

Children begin by drawing parallels between what they are reading and their own personal experiences. By spotting similarities, they can make connections between different texts, materials, or concepts as they get older. To put it another way, get kids to build text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text connections prior to, during, and then after they read, to improve comprehension. 

Before reading the material, for example, a conversation of new or challenging vocabulary words may aid comprehension in children. The child can then use their past knowledge about the new terms while reading.


Another method for helping children focus on the meaning of the material when homeschooling is to ask and answer questions about it. Educators can assist students by demonstrating the process of asking excellent questions about the text as well as ways for finding answers from the text.


This method entails encouraging kids to make reasonable guesses based on what they’ve learned from the story or narrative. Predicting asks children to make assumptions about what will occur. They make predictions depending on what they hear, see, or read about the book’s title, cover, photos, illustrations, table of contents, and headings.

When kids are asked a question, they can offer their inferences or predictions. Predicting increases interest in and knowledge of the text, as well as provides a reason to read. By analyzing, pondering, and modifying their predictions, this technique helps keeps readers engaged.


Visualizing is another technique for improving reading comprehension. It means getting students to visualize what they read from the text in their heads. 

The mental image aids readers in comprehending, recalling details, remembering, and drawing conclusions from what they read. You can even ask kids draw a picture of what they’ve read so far. 

Similarly, you can ask them to close their eyes and listen as you read a paragraph to them. Instruct them to visualize what the words are saying in their minds.


This method has children identify the key idea in a text and put it into their own words while reading. Kids will have to identify what information from the text is most relevant and what is not. 

Kids will summarize the most significant information in their own words and describe the text in the least possible words. This method should not be used exclusively at the conclusion of a story. Rather, children should be taught to summarize the story as it progresses.


Reading comprehension is an important aspect of life since it helps us not just at school, but also at work. In this article, we talked about what reading comprehension is, why it’s important, and some methods to encourage comprehension when reading (monitoring for comprehension, responding to questions, summarizing, predicting, and visualizing) 

If your child is struggling with reading comprehension, try some of the tactics we described in this article! Having an adult pay attention to them and encourage them in their reading journey is sure to help!

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