Channeling Your Inner Detective for Reading Comprehension

Deanna's students

Reading assignments can be fun – we promise! Here, Hollywood, FL tutor Deanna P. shares her best reading comprehension strategies for students to keep in mind…

Do you like to play detective and solve mysteries? Well, here are the top reading comprehension strategies to use before, during, and after reading to crack the case and think outside the box.

  1. READ THE TITLE and highlight it; it is the key that unlocks the main idea and what the story is mainly about.
  2. Read the questions, not the answers. Pay attention to words in bold, CAPS, or italicized print and highlight or underline these words.
  3. Read the story. Underline or highlight any challenging vocabulary words. Try using context clues to figure out the word’s meaning. If you are still confused, have a dictionary handy. If you don’t understand the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary, you will not fully understand the structure of the story.
  4. Process of elimination… get rid of those silly answers immediately… there are always two!
  5. Do you know what time it is? Yes indeed, it’s detective time! Let’s tackle those questions at the end, and show them who’s boss! If the answers can be found in the story (i.e. explicit questions), look for clue words in the question, and then go back and look for them in the text. Highlight or underline the answer. This is where your detective skills really come in handy!
  6. Every detective encounters challenges, similar to those challenging questions that cannot be found in the text (i.e. implicit questions). These types of questions are a challenge but not for us super detectives!

Good detectives and readers must use their background knowledge and new knowledge to uncover the correct answer. These types of questions include main idea questions or what the story is mainly about. Again, read the title and the first few sentences. If you are still uncertain, read the last couple sentences. Look for repetitive words. These clues will guide you toward the correct answer, but remember, the MAIN clue to the main idea is right at the top of the page, directly under your magnifying glass: the TITLE!  Many detectives are in a hurry to get to their next case and do not realize that the answers are right under their nose!

Questions about the author’s purpose questions are another type, as well as questions about the genre of text. Here is a helpful clue all detectives need to know in order to understand the author’s purpose. Hint:  It’s a type of dessert and it comes in many varieties, for example, pumpkin, blueberry, cherry, apple, etc. Give up? Well, if you guessed pie you are correct! There are three main reasons authors write.  These three reasons spell out the word PIE:  to persuade, inform, or entertain!

Here are some more clues to unveil the author’s purpose and genre of the text:  If it’s nonfiction and has real pictures, chances are it is to inform. This type of text can be found in newspapers, history books, autobiographies, news channels, or anything that gives facts or anything that can be proven. If the text has made-up characters, even if the story could happen in real life, it is to entertain. These types of stories are realistic fiction, fantasy, fairytales, or anything that is not real. A story doesn’t have to always be funny to entertain.

Finally, if it sounds like a television commercial or contains a lot of opinions, the author is trying to persuade you to agree with them, therefore, it is to persuade.  Be careful, as it is very easy to confuse persuasive text and nonfiction. If it has a lot of opinions, chances are it is to persuade. I like to make a t-chart with one side labeled fact and the other opinion. Then, I skim through the text and keep track of how many opinions and facts there were. The side with the most is the winner!

Detectives need to work hard to solve each case, as well as good readers.  If you follow these reading comprehension strategies, you will solve the case every time! Happy investigating detectives!

DeannaPDeanna P. offers tutoring in a variety of subjects in Hollywood, FL. She has been a full-time educator in Florida for almost eight years. Learn more about Deanna here! 



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