Reading is much more than the decoding of black marks upon the page: it is a quest for meaning and one that requires the reader to be an active participant.

English for Ages 5-16 (The Cox Report, 1989)

How do we teach comprehension? In research terms this is a very recent question. Since 2000 there have been numerous studies that have identified what effective readers do in order to comprehend texts. and from these studies a number of strategies have been identified. These have various lablels depending on which study you read. I have chosen to focus on the following 6 because they are the ones that most closely relate to the National Curriculum 2014 programme of study for English. 


Creating visual images using visualisation, drawing or drama helps children to make links between their prior knowledge and new ideas.

Ask Questions

Active reading should generate questions in the reader’s mind. It is important to model explicitly this kind of questioning to young and inexperienced readers, thus making visible to them what is usually an internal monologue for expert readers.


Children need to learn how to identify the main idea in a text. Effective summarising involves children in evaluating a text and deciding which elements of it are most significant.


Children need to encouraged to monitor and check that they understand what they read. They need to be taught how to work out the meaning of words from context.


Stopping to predict what a text or part of a text might be about makes readers pay more attention when they begin to read. They need to consider the reasons for their predictions, look for evidence in the text and revise their initial predictions if necessary

Making Connections

Effective readers  make links between the texts they are reading with personal experiences, other texts and prior knowledge. Children need to be encouraged to make these connections through direct teaching.

Click on the thumbnail image to download an A4 child friendly poster for each of the strategies

Content Domains

The NC 2014 organises reading comprehension into domains. Click on the image to download a chart comparing those identified in the SATs and the reading exemplification materials