Text Comprehension

Text Comprehension

Comprehension is the reason for reading.
Text comprehension instruction in Reading Recovery lessons

Teaching for meaning in Reading Recovery starts with the first lesson. Children learn that understanding is the ultimate goal of reading. As they gain phonemic awareness, phonics and decoding skills, fluency, and vocabulary, the teacher supports children’s active use of these abilities while simultaneously making sense of what is read.

Reading Recovery teachers give careful attention to children’s development of the following processes:

  • Monitoring their own reading, being aware of what they do and do not understand
  • Using information in text to gain meaning (e.g., letter sequences, word sequences)
  • Using prior knowledge to support meaning
  • Taking the initiative to self-correct when the text does not make sense
  • Discovering new things within the text
  • Asking their own questions about the text
  • Building concepts about how books and stories work

Ways in which Reading Recovery teachers support the development of these processes in young children include the following teaching moves:

  • Selecting texts that will support the child’s present knowledge and skills
  • Selecting a variety of texts and text types to promote the flexible use of the child’s knowledge in new situations
  • Introducing texts by activating prior knowledge about the story and building experiences needed to enhance understanding
  • Emphasizing what the child already knows that will help in solving words and interpreting the story
  • Building connections during and after reading to support understanding
  • Having meaningful conversations about the text
  • Holding the child accountable for meaning during oral reading through such prompts as “Did that make sense?”
  • Examining records of oral reading behavior for evidence of meaning-making and adjust teaching objectives accordingly
  • Teaching for comprehension when children are writing as well as when they are reading. The reciprocal nature of the two processes will be mutually supportive

Because Reading Recovery teachers work with children who are demonstrating unique difficulties, approaches to comprehension instruction must be appropriate for each individual. Teachers must be knowledgeable and flexible in supporting comprehension in young readers and writers.


Clay, M. M. (2002). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.