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Reading Strategies

Kids Reading Book in Park

Each month we feature a different strategies for connecting reading with students.

Scroll through these resources to use the scrolling menu to the right to skip from one section to the next.

Content Literacy

Strategy Explained

Content Literacy is described as “The ability to use reading, writing, speaking, and listening to gain new knowledge.”  It’s like we’re putting all of the other strategies together to use it when we are reading things in other subjects (Science, Social Studies, Math, etc.)  The research shows that if students are provided with ongoing opportunities to express their thoughts, questions, and ideas about what they are reading and experiencing…they will comprehend on a much deeper level.  They should read a variety of texts, including picture books, nonfiction books, maps, magazines, articles, websites, and textbooks ~ to name a few!

Helpful Hints...How can you help at home?

  • Allow and encourage children to read current events or to see them on the news…and ask for their reaction, thoughts, and questions.  This can spark a great discussion!

  • Have them jot down notes as they read (for homework or for fun) about the things they are thinking, questioning, wondering, etc.

  • Give kids a pack of sticky notes.  Have them “code” the text as they read. These codes are symbols that represent the use of a particular strategy.  The codes can be found below. Most classrooms use this…the students should remember!


 Links and Websites:


Here is an overview of the basic strategies students use in the classroom and at home. These are the ones we've focused on in previous months:.


The codes below are useful for students as they are reading!  We use these in the classroom:


Key for Coding Text

  • T-S  Text-to-Self

  • T-T  Text-to Text

  • T-W  Text-to-World

  • ?  I have a question

  • L  New Learning

  • V  Visualization/Sensory Image

  • !  Surprising

  • *  Important

  • I  Inference

Content Literacy
Summarize & Synthesize


Strategies Explained

Summarize is what good readers do to highlight the important information they read.  Students sometimes struggle when summarizing because they want to recall every little detail they can remember!  When you summarize, you pick out the most important things that you just read and write it or tell it in just a few sentences.


Synthesize is the development of what we’re reading…as we read it!  As we read, an original thought takes shape, and then it expands or changes as we read new information.  Essentially it is “Combining new ideas with what I already read to get something new and different.” As students read, their thinking should change depending on new information. 


Helpful Hints...How can you help at home?


  • After your child reads, ask him two basic questions:  Who?  Did What?  Keep it short!

  • Have them:  Tell what is important, in a way that makes sense, and don’t tell too much!

  • Look at the newspaper Headlines; these are “summaries” of the article – discuss what the article might be about…or…read the article first, then decide what headline might fit!

  • Have students write "Sticky Note Summaries" - where they write a sentence on a sticky after each page or chapter.  Then those can be put together to summarize the entire book!


Help students think of reading as a “puzzle” that must all fit together

As they read, use these phrases to synthesize the information: 

  • I have learned that…

  • Now I understand that…

  • This gives me an idea…

  • That leads me to believe…

  • Now this changes everything!... 

  • and so on!


Think of it like a stone rippling in the water…One thought starts another, then another!


Websites to visit:


This website offers students a chance to write "Fractured Fairy Tales" and keep the information going...synthesize! 


This site will help students Summarize...finding facts in what they read:


Click here to access a good site to discuss the difference in Summarize & Synthesize along with activities for both.

Summarize & Synthesize


Detailed Explanation for Parents - Infer and Predict (click to open a much more detailed explanation!)

Strategy Explained

Good readers make inferences while reading to improve their understanding of the story or text.  An inference is when we understand things that the author does not tell us!  We infer why things happen, why characters behave the way they do, and how characters are feeling.  The reader creates images and inferences based on what the author does tell you and your own knowledge.  This is one of the more difficult skills for students to grasp, and is also one of the largest components of reading tests, especially the EOGs.      

Helpful Hints...How can you help at home?

~ One way to help your child make an inference, is to think of it this way:

         Your knowledge  + Clues in the text  = An Inference

It’s taking what you already know/understand and adding what the author does tell us, to come up with answers to the “Why” and “How” questions.

  • After reading, ask your child to list things the characters Say and Do, then come up with what those actions Show About the character.

  • As you ride down the road, pay attention to billboards or bumper stickers. These are full of inferred messages – make it a game where you try to figure it out!  Charades are also fun!


When you can infer:

  • Watching TV or Movies

  • Looking at pictures of people

  • Cartoons in magazines

  • Magazine covers (this is a fun game...cover up something on the front of a magazine, try to guess what's under the sticky note!  Use clues!) 

  • Characters in our books....why do they do/say things?  What does a character's actions show about him/her? How is the character feeling?  Why? and much more! 

  • Poems are full of things to infer! 


Websites to visit: This site has riddles, you click for more clues and type in a guess when you think you know it!  Play "Inference Battleship" and try to figure out the inference before they sink your ships!  A site where you read a sentence, and choose an inference from a drop-down box.  This is similar to the types of choices students will see on reading tests.   A site called "Into the Book."  Once here, type first name in the box, and click "Get your Key."  You can use this "key" or username for coming to this site in the future.  Once you log in, you'll see a book in the center with all sorts of activities surrounding it.  The magnifying glass in the lower right corner will have activities for "Infer." However, the other activities address the other Comprehension Strategies, such as Making Connections, Visualizing, Questioning, etc.  Play around with all of them! That's what makes us a well-rounded reader...using ALL of the strategies!

Ask Questions
Ask Questions


Detailed Explanation for Parents - Questioning (click to download a very detailed explanation!)

Strategy Explained

Good readers ask questions Before they read, During reading, and After they read.  Questioning provides a purpose for reading and keeps the reader engaged in the text as they are reading.  It gives the reader something to search for and answer as they read. There are two types of questions that students ask. 

  • In the Book:  Questions where answers are written and found in the text.

  • In my Head:  Questions where the reader must put together things they already know plus what they read in the book and come up with the answer.    


Helpful Hints...How can you help at home?

Ask your child to come up with some questions they have at all three stages of reading:

  • Before:  “I wonder…” , “What is going to happen…”, “Who is the story about…”, etc.

  • During:  “What is going to happen next?”, “Why did _____ happen”, “How is the problem going to be solved?”, “What would I do if…?”, etc.

  • After:  “What was the main idea?”, “Do I agree with what the author said?”, How did I feel when….?”, “What would have happened if…?”, etc.

Determine Importance
Determine Importance


Strategy Explained…When we read, it is important to focus on the main ideas and main events. 


With fiction stories, students should be able to decide Who the main characters are, What the main events are, and the Main problem/solution. 

With nonfiction text, students learn to use things such as Subheadings, Captions, Diagrams, Graphs and more to help understand the important ideas in the text.  


Helpful Hints...How can you help at home?

Ask your child to use these Sentence Starters after they read:

  • “The most important ideas are…”

  • “So far, I’ve learned that…”

  • “This paragraph/selection is mostly about…”

Websites to visit:

Into the Book: ~ here, students will just need to type in their name and begin using!  All of the Comprehension Strategies are available on this site; to practice "Determine Importance" - students drag the Flashlight into the book!


The Reading Lady: ~ here, you will find good explanations of how students can "Determine Important Information" (especially in nonfiction) and some ideas for practice.

Nonfiction Features Notebook: ~ here, you will find a printable "notebook" where students can use the features of nonfiction (graphs, charts, diagrams, labels, captions, etc) to relay the important ideas.


Printable Practice Pages: ~ Here, you can find printable practice pages for grades 1-2 and also for 3-5 for a variety of comprehension strategies.


Good readers visualize things as they read.  Visualize means to “paint a picture in your mind” of what the author is saying.  A good way to do this is to use your 5 senses: What does the author makes you...

  • see

  • hear

  • taste

  • smell

  • feel

Helpful Hints and How you can help at Home...

  • After your child reads for homework, ask what pictures or images came into their mind.

  • Allow your child to read books or poems without illustrations (or simply cover them up!) then have your child draw the scene they imagine.  Remember to include details for all things going on around the main scene!

  • Visualizing helps writing skills, too!  After a student reads, have them write a brief summary, including details of things they see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.  These are great details to use!

  • An idea is to make a picture book of what you are reading.  Draw a picture of the main character or the setting, write and draw what you would see, hear, feel, taste, or touch if you were in the story.Both parent and child can do this, and the see if your pictures are similar!


Websites to visit

Making Connections

Students should make connections to the things they read.  Reading should activate prior experiences, and allow students to relate the text (or story) they are reading now to something they have done, seen, or read before.  There are three types of connections: 

  • Text-to-Self Students connect what they are reading to a personal experience or memory;

  • Text-to-Text Students connect this text or story to another text or story they have read; and

  • Text-to-World Students connect what they are reading to something they have heard about, seen, or that others have experienced.


Helpful Hints...How can you help at home?

  • After your child reads for homework, ask them to make a connection…and to explain!

  • Make connections yourself!  Children need to know that adults read and use these strategies, too.  By discussing your own connections to things you read, your child will learn as well!


Websites to visit:


The site, "Into the Book", will allow your child to practice Making Connections (and other strategies) in a fun, interactive way!  You will be asked to enter your first name on your first visit, then you will use the login information for future visits. 


Here is a printable worksheet for students to use.  It has space for a picture of a character in the book, and a picture of you.  This is more appropriate for younger students, but can be used with any book!


The Reading Lady has a great list of books that you can use for each strategy.  As your child brings home books from school, or reads books you have at home, check this list to see what strategy they reinforce.


This portion of the Into the Book site has more resources, links, and activities.

Making Connections
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