7 Keys to Comprehension

November 07, 2014

Susan Zimmermann covers reading comprehension strategies in 'The Seven Keys to Comprehension.'

Recently I had the good fortune of being able to interview Susan Zimmermann on The Coffee Klatch Network. Zimmermann is the author of The Seven Keys to Comprehension: How to help your kids read it and get it!

Within the interview, we talked about the challenges with comprehension. Susan highlighted some of the elements that research has shown contribute to successful comprehension.

Zimmermann’s Reading Comprehension Strategies

As she discusses in her wonderful book, successful readers do the following:

  1. Create mental images: Good readers create a wide range of visual, auditory, and other sensory images as they read. They also become emotionally involved with what they read.
  2. Use background knowledge: Good readers use their relevant prior knowledge before, during, and after reading to enhance their understanding of what they’re reading.
  3. Ask questions: Good readers generate questions before, during, and after reading to clarify meaning, make predictions, and focus their attention on what’s important.
  4. Make inferences: Good readers use their prior knowledge and information from what they read to make predictions, seek answers to questions, draw conclusions, and create interpretations that deepen their understanding of the text.
  5. Determine the most important ideas or themes: Good readers identify key ideas or themes as they read. They can distinguish between important and unimportant information.
  6. Synthesize information: Good readers track their thinking as it evolves during reading, to get the overall meaning.
  7. Use fix up strategies: Good readers are aware of when they understand and when they don’t.  If they have trouble understanding specific words, phrases, or longer passages, they use a wide range of problem-solving strategies. These include skipping ahead, rereading, asking questions, using a dictionary, and reading the passage aloud.

Reading Comprehension

Comprehension research received a great deal of attention in the 1990s, but has largely been overlooked for some time due to an emphasis that has been placed on decoding and reading fluency. If your child is struggling with aspects of comprehension, you may want to check out the interview and her reading comprehension strategies.

Give it a listen!

The interview aired on Tuesday, November 11, 2014. To hear the interview (and to access archived interviews), click here.

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