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Using a Rich Variety of Engaging Reading Strategies

By Patrick Lashmar August 31, 2015

An article from Jack Booth and Patrick Lashmar...

Reading teachers need to maintain and dig into a large tool box of reading strategies that are rich and engaging to meet the wide spectrum of needs when teaching reading. Below are some to consider using in your classroom.

Encouraging Text Talk

We need to model for and demonstrate with students the ways in which we take part in literary discussions, encouraging their participation through prompts and questions during the talk-time, revealing appropriate behaviour with our own responses, and inviting the students into the conversation. For students with difficulty as readers, these events can teach them how effective readers achieve, how meanings accrue through the sharing of ideas and feelings, how by listening and responding they can develop as language users, and how they can grow as meaning-makers by engaging in discussions about texts they have experienced. When these readers in difficulty reveal that they, too, have ideas and thoughts about the text and its connections to the world we share, and when they begin to adopt the main roles in the discussion, then we can see authentic evidence of their literacy growth.

Keeping a Reading Journal

In reading journals, students can record their thoughts and feelings about the books they are reading, as well as keep a list of books they have read. We often need to write about our thoughts before we can really come to grips with them. The act of revisiting and reconsidering our responses to a text is often possible by reviewing what we have written in our journals. In doing so, we are connecting the processes of reading and writing, formulating thoughtful and personal reactions to what we have read.

By keeping a journal during the reading of a text, students can engage in a conversation with the author, record critical interpretations, monitor their own progress, and record observations for later use in their writing projects or in a dialogue with the teacher. They may include sketches or charts that support their responses.

Journals are useful as well for keeping track of interesting or challenging vocabulary, and can serve to keep track of ideas to write about more fully later. Ideally, students would write in their journals when ideas occur as they read, but it may be necessary to develop this as a useful technique by selecting a time in a guided session for writing, or perhaps having students write an entry during every other reading time.

Multiple Reading Strategies

  • sound out familiar words
  • preview and predict selection contents using title, picture/photographs/maps, etc.
  • predict next event; confirm prediction and revise if necessary
  • reread
  • identify important ideas to remember
  • consider purpose of writing
  • study visual images (e.g. illustrations or photographs, captions, charts, symbols, colours, lines,
  • as well as features of formal text) for information and details
  • imagine self in story
  • figure out main idea
  • use punctuation marks and conventions of spelling to help understand
  • retell story in head
  • ask for help
  • reflect how events, etc. are similar to own experience; make connections between own
  • experiences and those of story character
  • activate prior knowledge (e.g. brainstorm, question, talk, develop concept map); make links
  • and integrate personal knowledge and experiences (e.g. compare to movies or television show
  • of similar theme)
  • use language patterns (e.g. familiar word order)
  • use sound patterns (e.g. rhyme)
  • identify words and predict next word
  • use knowledge of sentence structure in speech to understand written sentence
  • use predictable word patterns and separate words into parts (e.g. syllables or recognizable
  • units), using patterns of word structures to determine meaning (does it look right?)
  • use context to recognize unfamiliar words (does it make sense?)
  • use syntax to recognize unfamiliar words (does it sound right?)
  • use knowledge of word endings
  • use simple sound patterns and graphophonics to recognize unfamiliar words and
  • understand that some sounds may be represented by different spelling
  • use phonics as an aid in learning new words
  • use basic conventions of formal text to locate information
  • use cross checking strategies to monitor own reading
  • ask questions
  • substitute one word for another in meaningful way
  • find familiar words
  • develop mind maps
  • use dictionary and/or thesaurus
  • read on
  • record key points
  • adjust speed (e.g. skim, scan, slow down)
  • self monitor
  • use graphic organizer
  • summarize
  • discuss

You will not use all of these reading strategies with a particular student or even an entire classroom of students but you will use some of these with all your students. The key is in knowing which ones will work best with which students.

Click on the link below to learn about grade specific reading strategies.

More reading strategies by grade level.

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