what is reading comprehension and why is it important?

what is reading comprehension and why is it important

Why is it important?

In today’s article we will learn about reading comprehension, what is it? How to enhance it? And what are the required skills to acquire? 

The word comprehension itself means to understand what you read, normally people don’t reach the stage of comprehension. However, for students and kids, they need to learn how to reach this stage of reading. But why is it important for kids to learn? In order for them to understand the subjects and books they learn and add up to their knowledge.


What is reading comprehension?

Reading comprehension means being able to understand the book you’re reading, the text, or the learning materials. Perhaps not having this skill makes many people hate reading and others wonder, how to read a book?

The skill of comprehension depends on word reading, which means the ability to understand the word and read it, and decoding, which means being able to understand the meaning of the word and sentence you read.

This skill helps you learn, gain new knowledge, and enjoy what you’re reading. Do you know, how many books does the average person read? I bit you don’t, in the US There is research shows that the average person read around twelve books a year, some may read one book while others may not read any.


The importance of reading comprehension

As we said above reading comprehension means the ability to understand what you read. If you don’t have this skill then you’re not reading, you’re just looking at the writings. Let’s say someone asked you, do you know how to read Arabic Quran? and gave you the Mushaf, will you be able to understand its words if you don’t understand Arabic? Of course not, you will say it’s beautiful writing, but I can’t understand it.

Let’s take another example if you were handed an Arabic kid’s story, and you don’t understand Arabic at all. Then you will look at the writing and won’t understand, but you might be able to understand what it talks about from the pictures. That’s how it feels to read without reaching the stage of comprehension. You are looking at words but not able to understand what it says, what the author wants to tell you through the book. Therefore, reading comprehension is important, without it you won’t gain the required information and knowledge you’re seeking.

That’s not all, reading comprehension is used in daily life, for example, directions on packaging and transportation documents, like transportation schedules, or the directions to follow. If you can’t understand them then you will get lost in the end.

What if you want to be a writer? Doesn’t it mean that you need to read many books to learn about the author’s style and how to write a plot, and so on. For example, if you want to write a kid’s story, then you will search for the “How to write a story for kids?” for example and you will get many results, then what if you can’t understand the meaning of the text? Troublesome, right?

Reading comprehension skills

After we learned about the importance of reading comprehension, now it’s time to know what skills you should acquire.

1-     Decoding.

The first and most important skill is decoding, it’s the skill used by kids to sound out words they once heard but don’t know how it’s written. Decoding goes under a bigger skill called phonemic awareness. It means the ability of the kid to hear each sound of the word individually.

It also depends on knowing the sound of each letter, for example, when kids try to read the word “blue” they need to understand the sound of each letter. How to pronounce the letter b/l/u/e and how to read them all together to make the word.

How to gain this skill? Kids, gain it by nature when they see books, hear songs, and so on. However, some of them face trouble with gaining it. Therefore, they need to be taught to them, and let them practice. Read a lot to your kids and play word games with him/her.

2-     Fluency.

To be able to read easily, kids must be familiar with the words and be able to recognize them even if they haven’t seen them before, by knowing how each letter is pronounced. Fluency helps them understand and read faster.

Trying to decode each word and sound it out will take a lot of time and effort, therefore you need to teach your kids a lot of words and how to pronounce words they haven’t seen before just by looking at it. This is the second skill to gain reading comprehension.  

To be fluent the need to read fast with no errors. To reach this stage kids must be taught how to sound out words, practice, and read a lot of books.

3-     Vocabulary.

How will kids gain fluency if they don’t have a good Vocabulary, the key to reading comprehension is to be able to understand each word you read and that happens when you have a strong Vocabulary. You can teach kids a couple of new words every day, test their knowledge of the old words you taught them, and let them read a lot and ask you about what they failed to understand.


Types of reading comprehension skills

In the above section we learned about some required skills to gain reading comprehensions like decoding, strong vocab, and fluency, is there more skills to acquire? Yes, and here they are.

1-     Sentence construction.

To understand the meaning of the text or sentence you must teach your kids the structure of the sentence, which will enable them from understanding the ideas connecting each sentence. Understanding the ideas between and within the sentences enables the kid to understand the meaning of the text they read and the big idea of the book.

2-     Background knowledge.

When we read a story or a book, we tend to relate it to our lives or something we know or experienced. Therefore, you have to teach your kid about the word and help them acquire knowledge so that they can understand the hidden ideas referred to in the text.

How do you help kids build this skill? By reading a lot, watching movies and tv shows, you can even teach them about art.

3-     Enhance memory and attention.

When kid pays attention to what he/she reads they will be able to memorize the important knowledge and understand what they read which will enhance their reading comprehension.

Not paying attention makes kids lose track and don’t understand the text, this might happen because of a lack of understanding. For example, if the text is hard to understand the kid will feel bored and concentrate on something else. Therefore, you need to teach your kid, if they don’t understand something they must ask or search for it, or even re-read the text. 


Types of reading comprehension.

There are more than 5 types of reading comprehension, and here are some of them:

1-     Lexical comprehension: this means introducing new words to kids after finishing the text read to them. For example, you might teach them the different synonyms of the words.

2-     Literal comprehension: this type help the learner to understand the main idea of the text or book.

3-     Interpretive comprehension: asking questions to yourself after you finish reading, like why did the reader write this, how did he solve the problem, and so on. This will help you learn to read between the lines.

4-     Applied comprehension: let’s say you read a story to your kids and they still don’t understand it, then you could apply it to real life or tell them about something similar to it that they experience in school. This will help them understand better.  

5-     Affective comprehension: the ability to understand the story of the book, and the meaning behind each text, how the characters fit the story and help build it.


How to teach reading comprehension?

We said above that reading comprehension depends on a bunch of skills, like having a strong vocab, relating to background and life experiences, attention and memorization, and sounding out the words. And if you want to teach reading comprehension then you should work on building each skill and enhancing it, through reading, practicing, giving students instructions to follow, introducing new books to read, and then discussing what they read to help them understand better and share their knowledge.


Are helpful to develop students comprehension?

Reading, practicing, and games. Those are the three techniques to build and enhance students reading comprehension. Ask them to read a novel for example and set a date to discuss it, let each kid discuss his/her point of view and what they understood from it. You could also ask them about the new words they learned and let them build a new sentence using it.   

Introduction about reading 

Reading is great for many things, it improves memory, and focus, helps you gain knowledge, and builds creative thinking skills, not just that there are much more and we will discuss some of them now. Besides all the benefits that reading gives, you will also have fun and enjoy your time.

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