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Reading is a skill!
The more you do it the better you will be at it.
What other skills do you have? Do you play an instrument?  Playing  the piano is a skill. What about sports? Throwing a fast ball is a skill. Do you dance? What skills do you have when you dance?  These things all take practice. You may have heard of the saying "Practice makes perfect.".  I tell my students that this is sort of true, but I like to think that perfect practice makes perfect.

Reading is a tool!
Just like you need tools to build  a house, you need reading tools to read a book, read the newspaper, read a letter or email from a friend.
Knowing how to use reading tools will help you understand the world around you.

Reading is a process!
There are steps you need to do to be a good reader.   There are many steps in this process but the main three steps are Before, During and After Reading.
Going through each of these steps will help you become a good reader.


Using THINK ALOUDS is a great way for a teacher (or parent) to model the steps
to becoming a good reader.  Think alouds are simply talking and sharing what you
are doing.  This process helps students hear and see how to develop the skills
needed to be a good reader.

This is an important step!  Before you get ready to read you should
set a purpose, preview the story and make a plan.

Everything you do you do for a reason. When you brush your teeth, you do it to keep your teeth healthy. When you go the grocery store you are going for a specific reason- to buy food.  When you pick up a book think about why you are reading that book.  Some reasons could be reading for entertainment, reading to learn, or reading for enjoyment. Why are you reading this webpage about reading? Hopefully your purpose is to learn more about becoming a good reader or helping someone you know to become a better reader.. 

I was never good at waiting. I love to shake presents ahead of time to see if I can guess what is in the box! I do the same when I get a good book. I love to look through it and find out more about the book.  Previewing a book is like sneaking peak at what the book will be about.   Here are some things you can do to preview...

  • Look at the cover. Are there pictures that might give you some clues what the story is about?
  • What does the title tell us about the story?
  • You can also get an idea about the book by looking at the table of contents.
  • Now read the first few lines of a page or look at the pictures.
  • Look for words in bold-face type. These words are usually important and help you learn more about what the book will be about.
  • Scan pages quickly to locate words you may not know. Look up the meanings of these words before you start reading.

Doing all of this activates your prior knowledge on the subject and helps you understand what you will be reading.  It is important to make connections to what you are reading.

1.  Text-to-Text Connections: how does what you are reading connect to other things you may have read?
2.   Text-to-Self Connections: how does what you are reading connect to yourself?
3. Text-to-World Connections: how do the things you are reading connect to real-world events?

Using graphic organizers (such as this one) is one way to help you keep track of the connections you have made


This is the step that you decide how you are going to read the story.   Are you simply going to read just to read or are you reading to learn something. Maybe you are reading a story just for fun. If this is the case, you can generally zip through a story or passage. If you need to remember specific facts you might plan to take notes as you read or create a story web.  Maybe you are planning to use a highlighter or sticky notes to mark important information. Remember only write in a book if it is yours! If you can't write in the book little sticky notes can be placed on important passages you may want to go back to later. Make a plan to summarize the story.  Look for words in bold-face type. Look at the headings or pictures to help you identify important facts.


As you read you want to ask yourself what am I learning?  Good readers are always thinking about WHAT they are reading and connecting it to why they are reading. This is known as reading with a purpose.  Good readers are always making connections too.  They connect the information to what they are reading to what they already know. They ask themselves questions- what do I know about this topic? How do I feel about what I am reading? Why is this important to me?  Taking notes can be very helpful in keeping your thoughts, ideas, and the information you read organized.  Remember to think about the five "W's"= who, what, where, when and why and the "H"=how.  Answer these questions as you read to help you understand what you are reading.  Take notes as you read.

It is important to make connections while you are reading.
1.  Text-to-Text: how does what you are reading connect to other things you may have read?
2. Text-to-Self: how does what you are reading connect to yourself?
3. Text-to-World: how do the things you are reading connect to world events?

During reading you should also make sure you understand what you are reading. If you are unsure of a word or a group of words make sure you go back and try to figure it out.
This is known as self-correcting
You may also have to go back and reread to understand something.

Good readers are also ACTIVE READERS!

Okay now you are at the end of the book- what do you do now?  Don't just close the book and tuck it back into your desk. You need to stop and think about what you read! This is called reflecting.  Reflecting means to think about all the things you just read about. Think about the purpose you had for reading. If you were reading to find facts for a report, did you find them?  Were you reading to be entertained? If so, did you laugh?  Ask yourself did I understand everything I read? This is very important! If you didn't go back and reread. Rereading is a very important step in becoming a good reader.  Did you know the first time you read your brain is looking at all the words and figuring them out. The second time you read your brain doesn't have to think about what each group of letters say it now works on what those words mean.  I consider myself a good reader and I reread all the time- especially if I am reading  to learn something.  Rereading lets you find out even more information. Rereading lets you sift out the little details you may have missed the first time around.  So read, read, and read it again!  Trust me, you won't regret rereading.

Lastly, you want to remember all the things you read.  The best way to remember something you have read is to do something with the information you have read. Teachers know this this secret and this is why they have you do story retells, answer questions, complete book reports, put on plays, draw pictures, tell a friend, write a response in your journal...  When you make an effort to retell a story it will be easier for you to remember what you have read. 

One way to help you recall information is to summarize what you have read.
Think of these prompts as you summarize-

~ Someone
     ~ Did something
     ~ But (there was a problem)
     ~ Then (the problem gets solved)
     ~ Finally (what happened at the end?)

I did not create the above prompts. They were passed along to me. If anyone knows the original source,
please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.


Activities and Ideas- Mandy Gregory has some great ideas for activities to do before, during and after reading.
All America Reads- lesson plans for before, during and after reading strategies
Four Blocks Reading- the official 4 Blocks Website
Glossary of Reading Strategies provided by the Kentucky Department of Education
Reading Rockets- a site packed with ways to help[ struggling readers
Reading Strategies- a collection of reading activities, strategies, articles, how-to's and more from Road to Reading.
Reading Strategies from Greece Central School District- organized in a chart form, this site has strategies  for before during and after reading.
Reading Strategies Templates- lots of templates to print and use  for before, during, and after reading
Scholastics Articles- helpful articles on helping students become successful readers.
What Do Good Readers Do?-  a great website that defines strategies and helps parents help their kids use them