Developing Comprehension

Young Boy with TutorThe International Reading Association has published numerous articles which focus on the value of interaction between student and teacher. Reading Comprehension is maximized when the reader develops the ability to instantly visualize what words mean. Reflection and discussion about a reading selection helps the student to “picture” the meaning of the words and facilitates the development of cognitive reading skills.

Picture books are delightful tools for teachers and parents to use for the purpose of modeling pronunciation and voice inflection, and for fostering meaningful discussion with novice readers. Whereas many of today’s instructional reading programs and literature for beginning readers are filled with graphics and artwork however, there is little opportunity for the novice reader to utilize his/her creativity and imagination. Many beginning readers rely on picture clues to determine or guess what the written words are. This approach to teaching beginning readers inhibits the development of essential cognitive reading skills.

When you hear the word, “hat” what do you picture? What kind of hat is it? Is it a large or small hat? Is it a tall hat, or a flat hat? Does your hat have a brim or a visor? Is it a baseball cap, cowboy hat, sombrero, top hat, sun bonnet, beret or beanie? What color is your hat? Of what material is your hat made?

Upon hearing the word “hat” your mind creates a visual image of what the word represents. The same cognitive process should occur as words are read. Reading comprehension improves as the reader masters connecting written words with simultaneous mental images. As with all skills, practice improves performance. Beginning readers, who read selections that have no pictures, more readily develop the skills necessary to conceptualize written information.

Deborah A. Montgomery
R G Seven Publishing, LLC

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