3 important tips to improve reading comprehension with novels | Mentoring in the Middle

3 important tips to improve reading comprehension with novels

Is there a way to review reading comprehension skills without making it painful to read a novel?  Yes!  

The best way to do that is to let kids enjoy a good book - either a read-aloud or independent book - with only some practice.

Don't try to do it all

Focus on two or three skills - maybe one's a review, another's an in-depth exploration, and the third is one you want to introduce your students to.
For example, if your students are comfortable with character traits and you want them to analyze character development, have them create a chart of the protagonist's traits at the beginning of the story. As the plot evolves, and students become aware of the conflict, look to see how that character responds.  Mark those down.  Get to the resolution and see what's changed.  This gives students at least three opportunities to look at character changes and development.
Or look at the initial presumptions or themes.  How do the characters respond at the beginning of the book?  What are the underlying assumptions they have about their world?  How does that change over time?  What are the themes that run through the course of the book?   What are the themes that surface closer to the end?

Pick good books for the skills you want to teach

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is excellent for teaching Main Idea and Detail and problem and solution.  
  • Never Caught is great for making inferences and for sequence of events.  
  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is also great for making inferences and for problem and solution.  
  • Wishtree and A Wrinkle in Time are chockful of figurative language, just to name a few.  
  • The Ogress and the Orphans is good for sequence of events, cause and effect, and problem and solution.  There's lots of inferencing to be done, too.

Stay tuned!

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