Recently I had the good fortune of being able to interview Susan Zimmermann, author of The Seven Keys to Comprehension: How to help your kids read it and get it! for the internet radio show as part of The Coffee Klatch Network.
Within the interview, we talked about the challenges with comprehension, with Susan highlighting some of the elements that research has shown contribute to successful comprehension.
As she discusses in her wonderful book, she noted that successful readers do the following:
- Create mental images: Good readers create a wide range of visual, auditory, and other sensory images as they read, and they become emotionally involved with what they read.
- Use background knowledge: Good readers use their relevant prior knowledge before, during, and after reading to enhance their understanding of what they’re reading.
- Ask questions: Good readers generate questions before, during, and after reading to clarify meaning, make predictions, and focus their attention on what’s important.
- Make inferences: good readers use their prior knowledge and information from what they read to make predictions, seek answers to questions, draw conclusions, and create interpretations that deepen their understanding of the text.
- Determine the most important ideas or themes: Good readers identify key ideas or themes as they read, and they can distinguish between important and unimportant information.
- Synthesize information: good readers track their thinking as it evolves during reading, to get the overall meaning.
- Use fix up strategies: Good readers are aware of when they understand and when they don’t. If they have trouble understanding specific words, phrases, or longer passages, they use a wide range of problem-solving strategies including skipping ahead, rereading, asking questions, using a dictionary, and reading the passage aloud.
Comprehension research received a great deal of attention in the 1990s, but has largely been overlooked for some time due to an emphasis that has been placed on decoding and reading fluency. If your child is struggling with aspects of comprehension, you may want to check out the interview.
The interview airs on Tuesday, November 11, at 8:00 (est), and will be available on the Internet after that date.
To hear the interview (and to access archived interviews), go to: