Reading Tips

Nicolelisa is a retired homeschool mother of three and currently lives in central Florida with her husband, Greg. Nicolelisa loves to read to and with children and actively encourages mothers of young children online, in homeschool groups, churches, and in her community.

These reading tips are intended to foster the success of those teaching chidren to read. They are designed to aid reading vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

(More downloadable reading helps are forthcoming!)

Microsoft Word – Pre-Reading Techniques.docx

Pre-Reading for Every Age

We all do it without recognizing it—we are all pre-readers. Pre-reading is simply using our observations to give us an idea about what we are about to read.

Have you ever read a book summary on a back-cover or interior front flap of a book? Do you inspect the cover art to get an idea of whether or not you’d be interested in reading a book? Do you look over the table of contents or read reviews?

These are all pre-reading activities which broaden our understanding of the books we read.

For children, these types of pre-reading activities are very helpful in first gaining interest in a book and then comprehending the story.

Early picture books are simple stories with generous illustrations which bring the stories to life in the imaginations of young children. Images linked to words give broader understanding to young readers.

Board books without words are truly audible books for children—those reading the stories are providing the initial image-word associations.

Here are some basic pre-reading activities to help your student comprehend what they are reading or are about to read.

Pre-Reading Techniques for Fiction and Non-Fiction

1. Make simple observations with your student by asking questions (deductive reasoning).

• (Look at the cover art together)
What do you think this book is about by looking at the cover?

2. Use the cover information for further observation.

  • (Read the back-cover reviews)
    From what people who’ve read the book say, what more do we know about this book?
  • (Read the interior front-flap or back cover summary) What more have we learned about this book?
  • (Read through the table of contents and read the chapter titles—unless the chapters are numbered) Do you see any story progression from the chapter headings? What do you think chapter 1 (read the title) will be about?

3. Read online reviews—we have many on—and ask similar questions. Pre-Reading Techniques for Non-Fiction and Textbooks

  1. Begin with what you already know.
    • Tell me what you already know about _____?
    • What would you like to learn about _____?
    • Do you have any questions about _____ that you’d like answered?
  2. Read the introduction and chapter summaries and ask the following questions:
    • What does the introduction tell us this chapter is going to be about?
    • How does the summary broaden our understanding of the topic that is discussed in the chapter?
  3. Pre-Read Topic Sentences and Identify Paragraph Structure
    Go back to the beginning of the chapter. Explain how paragraphs are usually structured. A topic sentence tells us what the paragraph is about.
    The following sentences often give us an illustration to support the topic sentence. Often the final sentence summarizes the topic sentence.
  4. Read several topic sentences together and ask:

• From the topic sentence, what do you think this paragraph is about?

5. Read through several paragraphs together and identify their structure by asking the following questions.

  • Can you tell read the topic sentence to me and tell me what the paragraph is going to be about?
  • What illustrations or examples does the author give us to support the topic sentence?
  • Is there a summary sentence at the end of the paragraph?

Word/Image Association and Picture-Pairing

Studies have found that pictures are encoded in our brains more effectively than words.

Psychologists have expansively studied the differences between the encoding and processing of words and pictures. Perhaps one of the most extensively investigated of these differences is known as the picture superiority effect, which is the finding that items presented in picture format are better remembered than those presented in word formats (Nelson, Reed, & Walling, 1976; Stenberg, Radenborg & Hedman, 1995).

For this reason, it’s most beneficial to introduce vocabulary to young children as a combination of pictures with their written form. Not only will this help your child’s eye to connect the two images for comprehension, it will also reinforce meaning when only the written image is provided. (

Picture-Pairing is simply a method of matching pictures to the written image. Pairing activities build reading comprehension and vocabulary.

Due to their encoding benefit, pictures are utilized in numerous instances such as teaching sight vocabulary, and pairing pictures with words and text to provide clarity to overall meaning. The beneficial aspects of using pictures with words and texts, and the superior nature of picture processing are well replicated and are demonstrated throughout the literature (e.g., Nelson et al.; Waddill & McDaniel, 1992; Stenberg et al).

Hazamy, Audrey A. “Influence of Pictures on WordRecognition.”  Https://, Georgia Southern University, 2009, 

Reading programs often provide word/image vocabulary cards and picture-pairing worksheets. Several online websites provide free cards and picture-pairing worksheets.


Word/Image cards and Picture-pairing worksheets can be easily made at home. I often encouraged my older children to draw pictures and write the matching words for our youngest child. It reinforced spelling for them and helped their sister with reading comprehension.

Reading Aloud—to and with Children

Reading aloud to children from an early age encourages imagination, enhances vocabulary, creates a love of reading, and reinforces relationship. All of these are wonderful especially if you are reading to your own children.

Many studies show the positive developmental and educational advantages of reading aloud to children—including improving listening skills, cognitive language development, concentration and self-discipline skills, etc.

Marcin, Ashley. “Reading to Children: Why It’s so Important and How to Start.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 Oct. 2020, 

Reading aloud to children gives us opportunity to discuss life topics addressed in the stories we read. For example, a story may introduce the loss of a grandparent or a pet, which provides a vehicle to discuss a child’s own feeling or fears regarding loss.

When Children Read Aloud parents and teachers can identify fluency and comprehension issues. Choppy reading or slow reading often interferes with understanding.

If a student reads word by word methodically, rather than reading to a comma or period, it’s likely they aren’t understanding the idea being communicated. If left undetected, a student can become frustrated and lose all interest in reading.

When I realized my children weren’t understanding what they were reading, we began taking turns reading aloud. When they read, I encouraged them to read longer and longer sections until they were able to read entire sentences easily. Taking turns eased the pressure of reading aloud. I took a turn to model the goal.

Like quickening the pace of a long-distance run by running sprints, reading aloud speeds the movement of our eyes and soon we’re reading longer passages and understanding themes and big ideas.

In summary, when reading aloud:

  1. Choose interesting stories for read aloud practice—perhaps fiction or animal stories.
  2. Take turns.
  3. Model reading to punctuation (commas and periods).
  4. Work at reading longer and longer sentences without hesitation.
  5. Check for comprehension by pausing to ask questions about the text.
  6. Make it fun—provide incentives (like more time for play or staying up an extra thirty minutes) or make a game of it.

Fluency is the developmental process that connects decoding with everything we know about words to make the meaning of the text come to life. Fluency is a wonderful bridge to comprehension and to a life-long love of reading.

Maryanne Wolf