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'Reading' is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols for the intention of constructing or

deriving meaning (reading comprehension). It is the mastery of basic cognitive processes to the
point where they are automatic so that attention is freed for the analysis of meaning.
Reading is a means of language acquisition, of communication, and of sharing information and
ideas. Like all language, it is a complex interaction between the text and the reader which is
shaped by the reader’s prior knowledge, experiences, attitude, and language community which is
culturally and socially situated. The reading process requires continuous practices, development,
and refinement.
Readers use a variety of reading strategies to assist with decoding (to translate symbols into
sounds or visual representations of speech) and comprehension. Readers may use morpheme,
semantics, syntax and context clues to identify the meaning of unknown words. Readers
integrate the words they have read into their existing framework of knowledge or schema
(schemata theory).
Other types of reading are not speech based writing systems, such as music notation or
pictograms. The common link is the interpretation of symbols to extract the meaning from the
visual notations.

• 1 Overview
• 2 Reading skills
○ 2.1 Skill development
○ 2.2 Methods
• 3 Assessment
○ 3.1 Reading rate
○ 3.2 Types of tests
• 4 Effects
○ 4.1 Lighting
• 5 History
• 6 See also
• 7 References
○ 7.1 Notes
○ 7.2 Bibliography
• 8 Further reading
• 9 External links

[edit] Overview
Currently most reading is either of the printed word from ink or toner on paper, such as in a logo
of a reading book book, magazine, newspaper, leaflet, or notebook, or of electronic displays,
such as computer displays, television, mobile phones or ereaders. Handwritten text may also be
produced using a graphite pencil or a pen. Short texts may be written or painted on an object.
Often the text relates to the object, such as an address on an envelope, product info on packaging,
or text on a traffic or street sign. A slogan may be painted on a wall. A text may also be produced
by arranging stones of a different color in a wall or road. Short texts like these are sometimes
referred to as environmental print.
Sometimes text or images are in relief, with or without using a color contrast. Words or images
can be carved in stone, wood, or metal; instructions can be printed in relief on the plastic housing
of a home appliance, or a myriad of other examples.
A requirement for reading is a good contrast between letters and background (depending on
colors of letters and background, any pattern or image in the background, and lighting) and a
suitable font size. In the case of a computer screen, not having to scroll horizontally is important.
The field of visual word recognition studies how people read individual words.[1][2][3] A key
technique in studying how individuals read text is eye tracking. This has revealed that reading is
performed as a series of eye fixations with saccades between them. Humans also do not appear to
fixate on every word in a text, but instead fixate to some words while apparently filling in the
missing information using context. This is possible because human languages show certain
linguistic regularities.[citation needed]
The process of recording information to be read later is writing. In the case of computer and
microfiche storage there is the separate step of displaying the written text. For humans, reading is
usually faster and easier than writing.
Reading is typically an individual activity, although on occasion a person will read out loud for
the benefit of other listeners. Reading aloud for one's own use, for better comprehension, is a
form of intrapersonal communication. Reading to young children is a recommended way to
instill language and expression, and to promote comprehension of text. Before the reintroduction
of separated text in the late Middle Ages, the ability to read silently was considered rather
remarkable. See Alberto Manguel (1996) A History of Reading. New York: Viking. The relevant
chapter (2) is posted online here.
[edit] Reading skills
Main article: Reading skills acquisition
Literacy is the ability to use the symbols of a writing system. To be able to interpret the
information symbols represent, and to be able to re-create those same symbols so that others can
derive the same meaning. Illiteracy is not having the ability to derive meaning from the symbols
used in a writing system.
Dyslexia refers to a cognitive difficulty with reading and writing. The term dyslexia can refer to
two disorders: developmental dyslexia which is a learning disability; alexia or acquired dyslexia
refers to reading difficulties that occur following brain damage.
Major predictors of an individual's ability to read both alphabetic and nonalphabetic scripts are
phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming and verbal IQ.[4]
[edit] Skill development
Both the Lexical and the Sub-lexical cognitive processes contribute to how we learn to read.
Sub-lexical reading
Sub-lexical reading,[5][6][7][8] involves teaching reading by associating characters or groups of
characters with sounds or by using Phonics learning and teaching methodology. Sometimes
argued to be in competition with whole language methods.
Lexical reading
Lexical reading[5][6][7][8] involves acquiring words or phrases without attention to the characters or
groups of characters that compose them or by using Whole language learning and teaching
methodology. Sometimes argued to be in competition with phonics methods, and that the whole
language approach tends to impair learning how to spell.
Other methods of teaching and learning to read have developed, and become somewhat
Learning to read in a second language, especially in adulthood, may be a different process than
learning to read a native language in childhood.
There are cases of very young children learning to read without having been taught.[10] Such was
the case with Truman Capote who reportedly taught himself to read and write at the age of five.
There are also accounts of people who taught themselves to read by comparing street signs or
Biblical passages to speech. The novelist Nicholas Delbanco taught himself to read at age six
during a transatlantic crossing by studying a book about boats.[citation needed]
[edit] Methods

Reading is an intensive process in which the eye quickly moves to assimilate text. Very little is
actually seen accurately. It is necessary to understand visual perception and eye movement in
order to understand the reading process.[11]
There are several types and methods of reading, with differing rates that can be attained for each,
for different kinds of material and purposes:
• Subvocalized reading combines sight reading with internal sounding of the words as if
spoken. Advocates of speed reading claim it can be a bad habit that slows reading and
comprehension, but other studies indicate the reverse, particularly with difficult texts.[12]

• Speed reading is a collection of methods for increasing reading speed without an

unacceptable reduction in comprehension or retention. It is closely connected to speed
• Proofreading is a kind of reading for the purpose of detecting typographical errors. One
can learn to do it rapidly, and professional proofreaders typically acquire the ability to do
so at high rates, faster for some kinds of material than for others, while they may largely
suspend comprehension while doing so, except when needed to select among several
possible words that a suspected typographic error allows.
• Structure-Proposition-Evaluation (SPE) method, popularized by Mortimer Adler in
How to Read a Book, mainly for non-fiction treatise, in which one reads a writing in three
passes: (1) for the structure of the work, which might be represented by an outline; (2) for
the logical propositions made, organized into chains of inference; and (3) for evaluation
of the merits of the arguments and conclusions. This method involves suspended
judgment of the work or its arguments until they are fully understood.[citation needed]
• Survey-Question-Read-Recite-Review (SQ3R) method, often taught in public schools,
which involves reading toward being able to teach what is read, and would be appropriate
for instructors preparing to teach material without having to refer to notes during the
lecture.[citation needed]
• Multiple Intelligences-based methods, which draw upon the reader's diverse ways of
thinking and knowing to enrich his or her appreciation of the text. Reading is
fundamentally a linguistic activity: one can basically comprehend a text without resorting
to other intelligences, such as the visual (e.g., mentally "seeing" characters or events
described), auditory (e.g., reading aloud or mentally "hearing" sounds described), or even
the logical intelligence (e.g., considering "what if" scenarios or predicting how the text
will unfold based on context clues). However, most readers already use several
intelligences while reading, and making a habit of doing so in a more disciplined manner
—i.e., constantly, or after every paragraph—can result in more vivid, memorable
experience.[citation needed]
• Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) reading involves presenting the words in a
sentence one word at a time at the same location on the display screen, at a specified
eccentricity. RSVP eliminates inter-word saccades, limits intra-word saccades, and
prevents reader control of fixation times (Legge, Mansfield, & Chung, 2001). RSVP
controls for differences in reader eye movement, and consequently is often used to
measure reading speed in experiments.
Reading process, by Leah B. Walter and Kenneth A. Boothe

ading process

by Leah B. Walter
Kenneth A. Boothe


Many people have tried to understand and define the reading process. Over the years,
theoretical assumptions regarding the reading process have varied greatly.

Nevertheless, “definitions of reading are generally divided into two major types: a) those
that equate reading with interpretation of experience generally,... and b) those that
restrict the definition to the interpretation of graphic symbols.” (Dechant 1991)


Understanding the reading process will help you in the areas of

• material production
• teaching, and
• training teachers.

“The most successful reading instruction is that which is based on a solid understanding
of the reading process itself, and which promotes...the acquisitions of good reading
strategies.” (Weaver, C. 1980).


How children define reading

Here are some definitions of reading that children have given:

• “It's filling out workbooks.

• It's pronouncing the letters.
• It's when you put sounds together.
• Reading is learning hard words.
• Reading is like know, it's understanding the story.
• It's when you find out things.” (Harste 1978)
How those working in the reading field define reading

Here are some definitions and characterizations of the reading process by those
working in the reading field:

• “Skillful reading depends uncompromisingly upon thorough familiarity

with individual letters, words, and frequent spelling patterns. Only to the
extent that we have developed such familiarity can the written word flow
effortlessly from print to meaning.” (Adams 1990)
• “Reading is an active process in which readers interact with text to
reconstruct the message of the author. Research in recent years emphasizes
the extent to which reading depends on the background knowledge of
readers. Printed symbols are signs which lead an active mind to reflect on
alternatives during the process of constructing knowledge.” (Barr, Sadow,
and Blachowicz 1990)
• “Reading is clearly a process which is complete only when comprehension
is attained. The critical element is that the reader reconstruct the message
encoded in the written language. Full comprehension occurs when the
reconstruction agrees with the writer's intended message...That
comprehension depends as much or even more on the information stored in
the reader's brain than on the information stored in the text.“ (Dechant
• “Reading means getting meaning from certain combinations of letters.
Teach the child what each letter stands for and he can read.” (Flesch 1955)
• “...the goal of reading is constructing meaning in response to text...It
requires interactive use of grapho-phonic, syntactic, and semantic cues to
construct meaning.” (Goodman, K. 1981)
• “Most of the contemporary definitions of reading include the following:
reading is a process, reading is strategic, reading is interactive, and reading
instruction requires orchestration.” (Klein, Peterson, and Simington 1991)

Controversy, where it exists, now focuses more on the reading process than on the


“The essential skill in reading is getting meaning from a printed or written message.”
(Carroll 1985). Reading specialists would generally agree that that reading skill includes
the following components (Carroll 1985):

• Knowledge of the language to be read

• Ability to separate spoken words into component sounds
• Ability to recognize and discriminate the letters of the alphabet
• Understanding of the principle of reading from left-to-right or right-to-left
• Understanding of the correspondence between letters and sounds
• Ability to recognize printed words from a variety of cues such as context,
analogy, syntactic, semantic, or letter shapes
• Ability to comprehend a text

See also

• What is a reading model?

• What are reading skills?
• What are reading readiness skills?


• Adams 1990
• Barr, Sadow, and Blachowicz 1990
• Carroll 1985
• Dechant 1991
• Flesch 1955
• Goodman, K. 1981
• Harste 1978
• Klein, Peterson, and Simington 1991
• Weaver, C. 1980

Reading Process
• Wiki
• Stage 1
• Stage 2
• Stage 3
“Reading is an interactive, problem-solving process of making meaning from texts.”
Literacy for Learning, The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy in Grades 4 to 6 in Ontario, p.
Reading is a complex interaction between the text, the reader and the purposes for reading,
which are shaped by the reader’s prior knowledge and experiences, the reader’s knowledge about
reading and writing language and the reader’s language community which is culturally and
socially situated.
The reading process involves 5 stages:
• Prereading
• Reading
• Responding
• Exploring
• Applying
Throughout the reading process readers use a variety of strategies, sometimes multiple strategies
at once, to help them make meaning from a text. (Interview with Lynn Marsden).
Reading Strategies
• Activating prior knowledge
• Predicting
• Visualizing
• Questioning
• Drawing inferences
• Finding important/main ideas
• Summarizing
• Synthesizing
• Monitoring comprehension
• Evaluating
Stage 1: Prereading
Pre-Reading Strategies Include:
• Activating Background Knowledge
• Setting purposes for reading
• Making predictions and previewing a book
• Going on a Picture Walk
• Making a KWL map
• Questioning and making predictions about a story
Stage 2: Reading – Responding and Exploring
There are a variety of ways to engage students in the reading process. A balanced approach
provides the necessary teacher support for reading.
• Modeled reading (reading aloud to students)
• Shared reading
• Guided reading
• Independent reading
During reading a number of strategies are used to help students develop comprehension skills.
By way of example, view the guided reading video clips and observe how a variety of strategies
are employed at various stages of the reading process by both the teacher and student.

Making Connections
Students relate to what they read by making connections to their own lives, to other texts they
have read and to the things or events that occur in the world. They compare themselves with the
characters in the text and recall similar situations or experiences.
Encouraging students to make connections helps the reader to stay engaged and to see the
connections between reading and everyday life. Capable readers use previous personal
experiences, prior knowledge, and opinions to make sense of what they have read. Capable
readers make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections. In the guided reading clip,
the child makes text-to-self and text-to-text connections. Notice that the teacher prompts her to
make connections at certain points, but the child also offers connections without being prompted.
To encourage students to make connections you can provide them with some prompts:
• “This reminds of the time that …”
• “I had a similar experience …
• “I remember when…”

Making predictions or “best guesses” about what will happen in a text is an important literacy
strategy and skill. Students’ predictions are based on their prior knowledge and experiences
about the topic, the genre, and what has happened so far in the text (using both the print text and
illustrations). Having students make predictions engages them in the reading task and encourages
them to become active participants in the learning.
Ask the learner to make predictions at the following points:
• Before reading:
○ Examine the cover illustration and read the title of the book. Ask the student to
predict what it might be about based on the cover illustration, the title, or both.
Sometimes the cover is not very helpful in giving students clues about what the
story might be about so you may have to provide a brief summary of the book.
○ You might say: “Look at the picture on the book and read the title. What do you
think this book is about?”
• During reading:
○ Students make predictions at
several key points throughout the
text and as they read, they confirm
or revise their predictions. In the
guided reading clip, the teacher
uses post-it notes to mark places
in the text where the student might
make a prediction.
○ You might say: “What do you
think [main character] is going to
• After reading:
○ The student compares the predictions to what the text says. Students can record
their predictions on a chart as they read and they can see how accurate they were
when they finish reading.

Developing Language Skills

In the guided reading clip, the teacher uses the opportunity to help the child develop language
skills by focusing on specific words and punctuation marks.
Did you notice any other reading strategies being used in the video clips?

Readers synthesize by summarizing information
into key points and combining their ideas into a
main idea. Synthesizing helps the reader to make
generalizations and develop opinions and to
integrate new information with prior knowledge.
Readers need to be encouraged to stop and reflect
on what they have read, to identify and select and
summarize important information and to merge
new information with existing knowledge to gain
new insight. Being able to summarize is very
important because big ideas are easier to
remember than a lot of small details.
In the guided reading clip, the teacher provides
the child with an opportunity to summarize the main idea of the story.
Stage 3: Post-Reading – Applying
Strategies Include:
• Story retelling all or part of a story
• Discussing favorite parts or elements of a story
• Answering questions
• Comparing to another book
• Writing new ending
• Drawing a picture about the story
• Playing a game related to the story
• Creating a radio play or other kind of performance

Shared Reading (back to Stage 2)

T he shared reading model was developed by
Holdaway (1979). The model is based on
research that supports storybook reading as
critically important in the development of young
children's reading (Wells, 1986). Research also
suggests that engaging in storybook reading at
home with parents is particularly effective in
reading development (Strickland & Taylor,
1989). It is very difficult for classroom teachers,
however, to orchestrate one-on-one reading time
for each student. Sometimes parent or
community volunteers in the classroom can take
on this role but usually, a teacher reads to a group
of children at the same time. The shared reading
model provides many of the benefits that are part
of the storybook reading experience that happens at home.
The Shared Reading Process
For students in primary classrooms, the teacher often uses “big books” (oversized versions) that
contain large print and illustrations. For junior students, texts can be projected through
technology such as overheads, visualizers or using a data projector. As the teacher reads the text
aloud, all of the children can see the print and illustrations and follow along.
The teacher and students return to the text several times over the course of several days. The first
reading is generally for enjoyment. In subsequent readings, the children are encouraged to read
along orally as they become more comfortable with the text. The teacher uses these opportunities
to extend comprehension of the story or to focus students’ attention on vocabulary development.
The teacher often pauses during the reading to ask for predictions or to allow students to make
connections to the text. The use of repeated readings and predictable texts (such as Simms
Taback’s version of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”) encourage students to
become familiar with patterns and to recognize words and phrases.
Benefits of Shared Reading:
• Quality children’s literature that might not be accessible to the children at their stage of
reading development, can be used, even with very young students
• The teacher models reading at the same time that students practice their reading
• Allowing students to become familiar with the text’s language patterns through multiple
readings promotes word-recognition skills and builds students’ confidence as readers
• All of the students experience success because less skilled readers still have the support
of the teacher and their classmates, while more advanced readers can enjoy the challenge
of reading high quality literature

Guided Reading (back to Stage 2)

• Based on careful observation of students, the teacher selects books that are supportive,
predictable, and closely matched to the students' needs, abilities, and interests. The
chosen texts should support the objective, but be readable enough for students to proceed
with minimal assistance. (Approximately 90-94% accuracy)
• The guided reading lesson provides the opportunity for the teacher to interact with small
groups of students as they read books that present a successful challenge for them.
• The assessment provides information for the homogeneous groupings which are
necessary for guided reading. This allows the teacher to tailor instruction to suit students'
changing instructional needs.
• The teacher acts as a facilitator who sets the scene, arouses interest, and engages students
in discussion that will enable them to unfold the story line and feel confident and capable
of reading the text themselves.
• Guided reading is reading by students. The students are responsible for the first reading
of the text, although the teacher might read a page or two to begin the session,
particularly at the primary level.
• Approximations and predictions are encouraged and praised. The teacher closely
observes, monitors, and evaluates ways in which individual students process print
utilizing reading strategies such as checking meaning and self-correcting.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Guided Reading at the Junior Level
1. Before Reading
a. Access prior knowledge
b. Build background and introduce genre, title and author
c. Ask for predictions based on the cover of the text
d. Access concepts, images and vocabulary in the readers’ memories that are related to the story
e. Begin a graphic organizer
f. Do a ‘Book Walk’
i. Scan through the text and examine any illustrations
ii. Look at the format of the book (pages, chapters, titles, table of contents, index, etc.)
iii. Introduce and discuss key vocabulary in the title
2. During Reading
a. Each group member reads a selected portion of the text silently
b. Teacher directs the students’ reading by suggesting what they might look for in each
c. Teacher selects appropriate reading strategies and focus questions
3. After Reading
a. Reflect on reading strategies
b. Discuss characters, setting, plot, genre as a group
c. Discuss vocabulary
d. Teach mini-lessons based on the needs of those in the group
e. Develop reading skills and strategies
f. Responding and Extending:
i. Build comprehension by discussing the text in more depth (explore theme, character
development, make connections)
ii. Respond to the text in writing, orally, visually, dramatically
iii. Compare earlier predictions to actual events in the text
iv. Complete the graphic organizer
Anchor Charts
The teacher and students record students’ thinking about a text, lesson, or strategy by creating an
anchor chart. The charts can be returned to help students remember the process. They serve
to connect past teaching and learning to future teaching and learning. All of the students in the
class are involved in the process of constructing meaning.

ALL grade levels can have similar charts in student/grade-level friendly language. That the
purpose of developing a common language or strategy that is used across the district. Strategies
do not change as students change grade levels - the material becomes more complex.

© 2007 Copyright Janette Hughes, UOIT

Understanding the Reading Process

Good readers understand the processes involved in reading and consciously control them. This
awareness and control of the reading processes is called metacognition, which means "knowing
about knowing." Some students don't know when they don't know. They continue to read even
though they are not comprehending. Poor readers tolerate such confusion because they either
don't realize that it exists or don't know what to do about it. Poor readers focus on facts, whereas
good readers try to assimilate details into a larger cognitive pattern.
Five Thinking Strategies of Good Readers
1. Predict: Make educated guesses. Good readers make predictions about
thoughts, events, outcomes, and conclusions. As you read, your predictions
are confirmed or denied. If they prove invalid, you make new predictions. This
constant process helps you become involved with the author's thinking and
helps you learn.

2. Picture: Form images. For good readers, the words and the ideas on the
page trigger mental images that relate directly or indirectly to the material.
Images are like movies in your head, and they increase your understanding of
what you read.

3. Relate: Draw comparisons. When you relate your existing knowledge to

the new information in the text, you are embellishing the material and
making it part of your framework of ideas. A phrase of a situation may remind
you of a personal experience or something that you read or saw in a film.
Such related experiences help you digest the new material.

4. Monitor: Check understanding. Monitor your ongoing comprehension to

test your understanding of the material. Keep an internal summary or
synthesis of the information as it is presented and how it relates to the
overall message. Your summary will build with each new detail, and as long
as the message is consistent, you will continue to form ideas. If, however,
certain information seems confusing or erroneous, you should stop and seek
a solution to the problem. You must monitor and supervise you own
comprehension. Good readers seek to resolve difficulties when they occur;
they do not keep reading when they are confused.

5. Correct gaps in understanding. Do not accept gaps in your reading

comprehension. They may signal a failure to understand a word or a
sentence. Stop and resolve the problem. Seek solutions, not confusion. This
may mean rereading a sentence or looking back at a previous page for
clarification. If an unknown word is causing confusion, the definition may
emerge through further reading. When good readers experience gaps in
comprehension, they do not perceive themselves as failures; instead, they
reanalyze the task to achieve better understanding.
Adapted for Breaking Through to College Reading, Brenda Smith, 1999.

Stages of Reading Literature as Aesthetic Experiencing

by Ann Woodlief and Marcel Cornis-Pope, Virginia Commonwealth

"The art of reading is a process of becoming conscious." Wolfgang Iser

"Those who fail to re-read are obliged to read the same story everywhere." Roland Barthes
"One must be an inventor to read well. . . . There's then creative reading as well as creative
writing." Emerson, "The American Scholar"

Learning to read literature is a matter of learning how to work through the process of
reading, to go beyond the questions raised during a first reading and begin to see the
complex patterns and interpretive gaps which make literature creative art. Different
cognitive processes are engaged as the reader reads more and more closely, and it is
these which are addressed here, linked to the kinds of questions that a reader
explores at each stage of the reading process.

First Reading
Questions for First Reading of Poetry, Fiction
Emotional Experience = Reading "through" the work
Linear, sequential, emotional, subjective, uncritical, superficial, selective.
• Reading for pleasure
• Reading to experience a semblance of reality (naturalization)
• Responding to "events," "people," "characters"
• Reading for recognition
• Reading through identification, absorption
• Reading "over" frustrating gaps, questions
Poetry, Fiction
Imaginative Experience = Reading "into" the work for discovery, problem-solving
Holistic, interactive, questioning, recreative, cultural
• Reading to connect, fill in gaps
• Asking questions
• Inferring motivations and predicting outcomes
• Arriving at conclusions
• Reading for "otherness" as well as self-discovery
• Connecting text with other texts, experiences
Critical/Analytic Reading(s)

Critical Dialogue: reading "against" the work, negotiating "meaning" Analytical-critical,

intersubjective, comparative)
• Analysis and appreciation of formal elements
• Reading for details, for different outcomes
• Questioning the text, interacting or arguing with it
• Questioning your own response and initial perspective
• Studying problems, gaps, frustrations
• Interpreting and making meaning, reconfiguring the text
• Negotiating values and attitudes
• Analyzing your own attitudes, biases, interests

General Questions about Passages

Intratextual Context
How does this passage anticipate what is to come?
How does this passage relate to what came before?
How does it reveal character?
How (if at all) is it ironic?
How would you describe its tone?
Authorial Context
How does this passage reflect the author's experiences?
What other works by the author share similar concerns? How?
In what ways is this passage characteristic of this author's style?
What light does it shed on the author's personality and interests?
Historical Context
How does it reflect its culture?
What intellectual trends does it reflect?
Does it allude to any specific historical events or circumstances?
Allusive Context
What if anything is the source to which this text refers?
What other texts--past or contemporary--does the passage allude to?
Is the allusion ironic? How?
How likely is it that the author would have been familiar with the text(s) alluded to? What is your
evidence for this?
Generic Context
How would you describe the style of this passage (or its work)?
What aspects of the passage remind you of other texts of the same kind?
What are identifying stylistic features that put it into this genre?
What would a reader expect as a result of reading this kind of passage?
How does this particular passage fulfill or undercut these expectations?
Philosophical Context
What ideas or assumptions are expressed or implied in this passage?
How valid or defensible are these ideas?
What (if any) are the social and political implications of these ideas?
How pertinent are these ideas to modern life?
Subjective Context
What in your own experience does this passage recall for you?
What other stories does it remind you of? How is it similar or different?
How (if at all) has it shed insight into your own life experiences?

Reading Process Analysis

Reading Process Analysis helps readers become aware of the demands of different
texts and the strategies that they use to meet those demands in their efforts to make
meaning as they read. By sharing reflections on their own reading processes in a
group, readers learn from each other’s processes and appropriate new strategies. They
also begin to see reading as a complex activity that requires flexible application of
many strategies. This is often an important new awareness for many readers. This is a
process that bears repetition, especially as readers encounter different types of text.
• Various texts, photocopied. (The first texts should be
moderately challenging without being difficult. As the class
gains experience with Reading Process Analysis, use gradually
more challenging texts.)

• Pens or pencils with which students may write on the text.

• Butcher paper with the title "Good Readers’ Strategies" written
on it and markers.
1. Before reading, ask students what good readers do when they read. Other
prompts might be: "How can you tell when someone is a good reader? What do
you think teachers look for when they are trying to understand how well
someone reads?"
2. Record all of the answers on the butcher paper titled "Good Readers’
Strategies." The idea here is to construct a sense of what the students’ beliefs,
or theories, of reading are. Receive all answers, whether they support your
notion of reading or not. Later conversations will revise and elaborate this
initial list.
3. Assign a piece of text to be read. Ask students to read as they normally
would, that there will be a discussion of how they read afterwards.
4. Following the reading, ask students to write briefly to prompts such as: What
did you notice? What was hard? What did you do to make sense of the text as
you read?
5. Ask students to share out. It is important to validate the many different kinds
of thinking that lead to the successful completion of the task.
6. Record students’ observations on the butcher paper as they share out. Be sure
to validate comments and point out things that are strong comprehension
strategies. As you record, label students’ strategies so that your class will begin
to build a common vocabulary about reading process. (If you have already
made a Good Problem Solvers’ Strategy list from "Making Thinking Visible
with Animal Creations," you may want to compare the two lists as you write.)
7. As students share their strategies, revisit the initial items on the list and ask if
there is anything they might add or revise based on this reading experience. For
example, a common comment on many initial lists is, "Good readers read fast."
If students share out that they had to slow down because the text was
confusing, the revised list might read, "Good readers sometimes read fast, but
they know to slow down when they need to."
• Read the same text that you assign to your students, and do
the reflective writing. Begin by sharing one or two of the
strategies you used while reading the text.
• Prompt students gently with questions such as: "Did anyone
notice that they had to re-read any part?" or "Did anyone think
of something else that they knew about that was kind of
• If this still does not yield much conversation, you may want to
model thinking aloud to give them a view of some strategies
that they may recognize. (see "Modeling and Practicing Think-
aloud" in the next section.)
• Try making a "Good Readers Solve Problems With…" list to
acknowledge that as readers, we all commonly face many of
the same comprehension challenges. From here, you can
prompt strategies by asking things like, " Did anyone else have
trouble with this part? How did you get through it?" These
strategies can be written on the "problem solving" list next to
the difficulty, and then written separately on a Good Readers’
Strategies list.
For example:
A student says that he did not know a particular word. Write "vocabulary" on
the "problem solving" list. Ask the class if anyone else had trouble with that
word. You can also ask a more general question like, "What kinds of things do
people do when they come to new words?" Help generate a list of strategies for
dealing with this problem:
• read ahead
• read the sentence before the word
• substitute a word you know that sounds right and makes sense
• look for parts of the word (roots) that are used in other words
that you know
• write it down and go on
• look it up or ask someone…
Soon even students who do not see themselves as readers begin to see that the
problems they face are common to all readers, and that they, too, read strategically
and are in fact good readers.
As students use Think-Aloud and Talking to the Text, they will become more able to
observe and share their strategies. Return to this Reading Process Analysis activity
intermittently throughout the year as they have more opportunities to practice
metacognition. Remember to add to and revise the Good Reader’s Strategy List each
time you do!

Good Readers’ Strategies

• Read fast (change the speed of their reading depending on
how difficult the text is)
• Re-read
• Ask questions
• Have a reason to read (set a purpose)
• Think about what they know already that’s related (Use
background knowledge)
For example, about topic, genre, era, author…
• Say, "this reminds me of my…" (Make personal connections)
• Try to picture what the author is saying (visualize)
Good Readers Solve Problems With
• Weird words (difficult vocabulary)
Read ahead
Re-read the previous sentence
Write it down
Substitute a word you know that sounds right and makes sense
• Distractions (focusing attention)
• Disagreeing with the author
• Being nervous (about reading aloud or reading for a test)
• Reading about something they don’t know much about
• Knowing why to read something, or caring about something
(Setting a purpose)

Encouraging a Reading Process

By Diane Lilleberg, Educational Consultant
Because of the potential for lasting value, encouraging the development of a “reading game
plan,” or a reading process, should be an important focus in teaching young students to read.
This process should lead students toward long-term development and ownership of skills and
strategies that will assist them in reading independently while accomplishing the purposes for
Activities to assist the development of such a reading process can be divided into three easily
defined parts: Before Reading, During Reading, and After Reading.
Before Reading
Identify (engage background) and a Set a Purpose for reading
Activities which encourage students to identify in some way with what they are about to read can
both motivate them in the reading and help them engage any prior knowledge or experience that
might help them understand what they are about to read.
Before reading processes also help students learn to set a purpose for reading the story and
expose them to the many different purposes for reading. The purpose that is set before reading is
to be kept in mind during reading. Students will also be asked to consider that purpose in
responding to the selection after reading.
Identify: Motivation is influenced by the ability to relate something to your personal experiences
and your needs. Opportunities to identify with content through reflecting on and communicating
about personal experience encourages student interest and motivation. If the setting is familiar,
the student can tell what they know about it from personal experience. Questions can help a
student remember and draw on experiences that might be similar to what a story character is
experiencing. The student can be asked to preview the story and to predict what might happen
from clues in the pictures or the text.
Most learning theories clearly recognize that learning occurs as you understand new things in
terms of what you already know. Activities encouraging students to identify with what is to be
read also encourages them to draw on what is already known about the topic. Drawing on what
they already know can encourage them to expect reading to build on and enhance this personal
background of experience.
If the reading experience is about something unfamiliar to the student, it is important to build
some background to bridge that gap before reading. An informal field trip or reading something
informative related to the story are ways to build background and identification. Telling a family
story or a personal experience of your own can also help the student to predict more accurately
and respond to unfamiliar content.
Set a Purpose: Even in very early reading assignments, students can learn to have a purpose in
mind for reading. Comprehension is encouraged by asking students to keep this purpose in mind
during reading and respond to it after reading. Examples of reading purposes might be to enjoy,
to find out what happens to a character, to discover how a character feels or reacts, to find
patterns or illustrations as they learn about print, to find information, to learn how to do
something, and to discover answers to questions.
During Reading
Decode for Meaning and Monitor Comprehension
During reading activities are strategies to help students actively think about the content of the
selection as they read. In particular, students should gain skill in decoding the words, in
appropriately attaching the correct meaning to those words, and in making sure that reading is
leading to understanding or meaning.

A mental picture is constructed by the reader during the reading of the text. A key concern
during reading is to recognize what to do when the mental picture breaks down. The goal for a
mature reader is to recognize there is a problem, diagnose it, and use decoding and
comprehension strategies to correct it. In this monitoring during reading, students should have
strategies to help them when they encounter decoding or comprehension problems. Research and
literature on the teaching of reading often refer to these as “fix-up strategies.”
It is important that students learn fix-up strategies that include things to do to help themselves
and knowing when and how to ask for help when helping themselves isn’t working. Examples of
appropriate times to ask for help from another student or the teacher can be discussed (such as
when they cannot decode a word, or when they do not understand a vocabulary word or a portion
of text even after trying some strategies independently).
A key skill in developing independence through during reading activities is learning to ask
oneself appropriate questions. Questions might include: “Does this make sense?” “What sound
does it start with?” “Can the picture help me understand?” “I have tried a few things, and I still
don’t know what this says.” “What else can I do to help myself?” “Is it time to ask for help?”
“How else can I get help?” Effective questioning strategies are best learned through teacher
Decode for Meaning: Though students may not recognize all the words, they can try
to figure them out in the following ways:

1. Thinking about the letter sounds

2. Considering the context (what makes sense with the rest of the sentence)
3. Considering the picture clues
Be sure to model the importance of using both phonics (especially initial consonant sounds at
first) and text and pictures to help determine what makes sense. Young readers should grow in
their ability to read independently despite occasionally meeting difficult words. Learning to keep
a list of words they need help in decoding will encourage this growing independence.
Monitor Comprehension: As they read, students need to reflect on the text and how it relates to
the purpose set before reading.
For students just beginning to read, attending to decoding the text and to comprehending it at the
same time can be difficult. Reading to the student, shared reading, and rereading are strategies in
this program that encourage student practice in monitoring comprehension. Both teacher
modeling and student responses can be oral, with written monitoring encouraged as literacy skill
As they develop independence, young readers can begin to independently mark portions they do
not understand or write down vocabulary for which they need the meaning explained. With these
strategies, they can gradually be encouraged to work on their own, developing confidence in
their ability to “take care of themselves” as independent readers.
After Reading:
Respond and Personalize (integrate the new into your background)
As mentioned, most learning theories acknowledge that we understand new things in terms of
what we already know. While before reading activities focus on what is already known, after
reading activities encourage the new understanding.
To encourage comprehension, students need to actively respond to what they have read. Reading
provides something new to consider, and students need time and opportunity to reflect on it. This
opportunity should allow them to personalize learning, integrating any new understanding into
what they know.
Respond: Was the purpose for reading achieved? Reading comprehension is built by asking
students to respond to what is read in a way that connects to the purpose set before reading.
Students may be asked to respond informally, either orally or by writing. Affective responses
may be requested—communicating, for example, what was most enjoyable in a humorous story.
Cognitive responses can also be requested—asking students to review facts, to order events, or to
describe the setting or characters.
Personalize: Young readers need to be encouraged to own what they have read through after
reading activities. They are in an ongoing process of making personal sense of their world. In
encouraging them to reflect and respond to what they have read, opportunities to blend the new
ideas gained during reading with their prior knowledge should be given. Students, in effect, take
a new sample of their world while reading and need to integrate it into what they already know.
This new understanding then becomes part of their background of experience.
The kind of questions asked after reading influence whether or not such integration takes place.
It is not enough to ask literal questions that can be answered by simply searching the text to
retrieve factual details. Rather, after reading activities should invite young readers to question on
their own, to reflect, and to gain new understanding. It is in so doing that we encourage children
to creatively apply their knowledge, their experiences, and their gifts in growing toward their

The Stages Of The Reading Process

If you have taken an assessment, such as a reading inventory, of your child’s reading ability, you
have taken the first step toward helping your child become a better reader.
The next step is to determine which of the stages of the reading process your child is in.
Understanding these stages of the reading process, and the characteristics of each, will give you a
greater insight into how to help your child progress through the stages of the reading process and
become a strong, capable reader.

These strategies, as described by reading specialists E. Sutton Flynt and Robert B. Cooter, Jr. are
as follows:

Stages of the Reading Process #1: Making Early Connections – Describing Pictures
In the first of the stages of the reading process, the child is unable to read stories. Instead, he is at
the stage where he can describe pictures, but is unable to make much of a story by looking at the

Hopefully, a child who is in elementary school has already progressed beyond the first of the
stages of the reading process. But, there are some children who have not moved beyond this
stage by the time they are in elementary school. This is particularly true of special needs

The characteristics of a child in the first of the stages of the reading process include:

• Able to describe pictures in books

• Sense of story is limited
•Able to follow verbal directions
• Oral vocabulary is appropriate for grade level or age
• Attention span is appropriate for grade level or age
• Responds appropriately to questions
• Able to make connections between pictures

Stages of the Reading Process #2: Forming a Story by Connecting Pictures

By the second of the stages of the reading process, the child has started to learn more about story
structure and can move beyond just describing the pictures she sees. In this reading stage the
child is:
• Able to describe an oral story based on pictures on several pages in a book
• Only able to use childlike, or “storyteller,” language to tell the story, rather than book language
(such as using phrases like “once upon a time.”)

Stages of the Reading Process #3: Transitional Picture Reading

The child at this reading stage is still only able to tell stories based on pictures but is:

• Able to understand how the pictures connect to the story

• Beginning to mix storyteller language with book language

Stages of the Reading Process #4: Advanced Picture Reading

At the fourth of the stages of the reading process, the child has finally grasped the difference
between storytelling and book language. A child in this reading stage is:

• Able to describe an oral story based on pictures on several pages in a book

• Able to tell a story using book language.

Stages of the Reading Process #5: Early Print Reading

A child at this level of the stages of the reading process is beginning to understand the purpose of
print and is beginning to read it. Characteristics include:

• Able to tell a story using pictures

• Understands that print moves from left to right and from top to bottom
• Can use book language to make up part of the story, but is able to read a few words

Stages of the Reading Process #6: Early Strategic Reading

If your child has progressed through the first six stages of the reading process, he is capable of
reading, but might make several miscues when reading material that is otherwise appropriate for
his grade level. If a child is developing typically, he should be in stage 6 by age 5 or 6.
Characteristics of a child at this stage include:
• Uses context clues to guess at unknown words and the guesses make sense.
• Recognizes beginning sounds in words and is able to use them to guess at unknown words
• Tries sounding out words
• Recognizes word parts, such as root words and affixes

Stages of the Reading Process #7: Moderate Strategic Reading

A child who has reached the last of the stages of reading, who has developed typically, should
be in stage 7 by age 7 and beyond. At this stage the child is reading appropriately for her grade
level. Children at this stage will:

• Use context clues and word parts to decode unknown words

• Self correct when making miscues
• Be able to retell the story
• Show an understanding of vowel sounds

If you have taken a reading inventory, as discussed in Testing First Grade Reading Skills, then
you should have an idea of the type of miscues, if any, your child makes.

If your child makes guess at words, but the words don’t make sense, or if your child skips words
altogether, he is likely still in reading stage 5.

If, however, your child makes guesses at words and the guessed word starts with the same letter
as the missed word and the guessed word makes sense within the context, then he is in reading
stage 6.

If your child makes miscues, but recognizes his own mistakes and corrects them, then he is in
reading stage 7. If your child is at this stage, it is time to move him on to more difficult reading

Understanding which of the stages of the reading process your child is at is key to helping him
become a better reader and advance to the next reading stage.