My daughter is in her 1st grade and she is quite good at reading. By that I mean she can pronounce difficult words, read books with the correct pause and expressions. She can even read fast. But what she lacks is the ability to comprehend what she is reading. When I notice that she is simply not reading and not pausing to think/reflect on what she is reading, I stop her and ask her questions. She stumbles on them.

A strategy I have tried is to give reading comprehension work sheets. They are helping but I think there should be some other strategies too. Are there any strategies that parents/teachers in this forum have used (or using) and found effective?

  • 3
    It sounds like she is focusing on her performance, not her comprehension. Even Adults have this problem when they are reading out loud with expression, such as to a group of children, or reading a speech. A similar thing happens if one tries to write super neatly, or in a complex font: you are more likely misspell things. One is a left brain skill, the other is a right brain skill.
    – Moby Disk
    Apr 24, 2015 at 18:34

5 Answers 5


I actually had a similar question a couple years ago. What I've learned since then is you mostly just need to wait. Kids don't really hit the developmental milestones for fluent reading until around age 7 or 8. Schools are teaching it earlier now mostly due to political pressure, not due to that being the best timetable for the way kids naturally learn.

At this age, you mostly want to cultivate a love of reading. What good is it to be a good reader at age six if you hate it by age 10?

Along those lines, the best thing I found to improve comprehension is to let them read stories they like. Even as an adult, it's hard to remember details from books that bore you. On the other hand, try getting my son to shut up about the plot of a Star Wars book. Your daughter's comprehension may be better than you think.

The best thing I found to improve comprehension on the boring books (if you must) is to ask the questions beforehand, so she can be on the lookout for the specific answers while reading. This also matches the way adults read for knowledge. We don't have quizzes afterward when we read non-fiction.

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    +1 for this "The best thing I found to improve comprehension on the boring books (if you must) is to ask the questions beforehand, so she can be on the lookout for the specific answers while reading". I'll try this.
    – yasouser
    Apr 24, 2015 at 16:56
  • And +1 for pointing out that it's a developmental milestone!
    – Stephie
    Apr 25, 2015 at 12:50

How about having her write some stories/paragraphs? Not necessarily about the particular book she's reading, but about any subject in general. Kids learn in different ways, and I have noticed that my first-grade speed-reader's reading comprehension improved when she started writing books for her little brother.

There's also the tactic of taking the subject she's reading about and supplementing with different sources. Reading about fish? Go to an aquarium and make observations, and compare them with the book she was reading. Watch a video about underwater life, and talk with her about how what you just watched relates to what she's been reading.

  • 1
    Writing is a very useful (and sometimes a bit neglected) complement to reading, and particularly so here since it a fast reader must slow down significantly to think about what to put on the paper. Ignore the inevitably poor spelling, though :)
    – Acire
    Apr 24, 2015 at 11:14
  • Thanks for the writing tip. She does writes books. Some picture books too. Her stories are mostly a mish mash of what she has read and saw in movies/cartoons. But I think making her write what she understood from what she read might help.
    – yasouser
    Apr 24, 2015 at 16:58

I used to be a primary school teaching assistant.

One of the things that may help comprehension is context.

And by context I mean literary context. You can build up her 'context' bank by reading and then re-reading stories of a specific genre to her.

E.g. we were taught (as teaching assistant's) that all those "Once upon a time" stories we heard as children not only got us used to the rhythm of a story but allowed us to infer and predict parts of the story, we enjoyed the anticipation because soon we knew the knight would appear or the wicked witch!

Imagine if you weren't a fan of sci-fi films and someone asked you to explain one you'd just seen. You could probably describe it but comprehending it may be another matter. It's not so easy if you don't have a reference point, a contextual understanding of the thing you are supposed to be engaging with.

Also make it fun! Act out with her parts of the story, use funny/silly/engaging voices, body movements.

Think back to what you enjoyed about stories when you were a child.

Just my two cents.


If she enjoys the reading comprehension worksheets, continue with those, otherwise scrap them.

Try some readers theater with her. You can also read ordinary easy reader books as though they were readers theater -- divvy up the characters between the two of you.

Try a game where you read one sentence, she reads the next, you go next, and so on.

Check out some books that have little or no text, but some very, very interesting illustrations. Discuss the illustrations together.

Buy the Montroll Easy Origami book -- she'll have to understand the instructions to make the model.

Choose a stuffed animal who has a somewhat dimwitted character, and take turns explaining to the animal what's happening in the story after each plot development. Kind of like Elmo saying, "Dorothy has a question."


Try to read passages that asks questions at the end of the reading. Find a website that has books or passages to read and questions to answer following it.

I also sometimes let her read the book and ask her to say the story in her own words. She doesn't do quite as well in explaining the content of the book. I found her very much accurate in answering the questions following the passages on the website.

  • If you know of any such website which you have found useful please quote them in your answer. So far I have found couple of sites with some good worksheets: education.com/worksheets/reading and superteacherworksheets.com/2nd-comprehension.html
    – yasouser
    May 18, 2015 at 18:30
  • I use www.readingeggs.com.au, you could also use www.readingeggs.com and sign up for 2 weeks free trial. The books on this website are more interesting than the worksheets because of the pictures and the topics. As a child who finishes the reading she has to get minimum right answers (comprehension test) to earn eggs. These eggs they can use to play some interesting games which improves memory and concentration.
    – Ramana
    May 19, 2015 at 1:16

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