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Reading skills

Reading skills are specific abilities which enable a reader

• to read the written form as meaningful language

• to read anything written with independence, comprehension and fluency, and
• to mentally interact with the message.

Here are some kinds of reading skills:

• Word attack skills let the reader figure out new words.
• Comprehension skills help the reader predict the next word, phrase, or
sentence quickly enough to speed recognition.
• Fluency skills help the readers see larger segments, phrases, and groups
of words as wholes.
• Critical reading skills help the reader see the relationship of ideas and use
these in reading with meaning

Word attack skills: Definition

Word attack skills are the ability to convert graphic symbols into intelligible language.

Reading skills come from the following:

• Seeing language as made up of units of sound and units of meaning

• Seeing print as letters symbolizing sounds, words, and discourse units of language
such as sentences, paragraphs, and quotations
• Seeing relationships of ideas and the ability to infer, evaluate, and conclude (This
is both a goal of reading and a skill.)

The order of recognition for a fluent reader may go back and forth from recognizing
letters to recognizing words, phrases, or even larger segments. For new readers, whether
recognition begins with the letter or the word depends on the way they learned to read.
As fluency is gained, each reader develops his or her own strategies and interplay of
skills. Proficiency in one skill aids proficiency in another.
Comprehension skills

Comprehension skills are the ability to use context and prior knowledge to aid reading
and to make sense of what one reads and hears

Comprehension is based on:

• knowledge that reading makes sense

• readers' prior knowledge
• information presented in the text, and
• the use of context to assist recognition of words and meaning.


Fluency skills are the ability to see larger segment and phrases as wholes as an aid to
reading and writing more quickly.

Here are some examples of fluency skills:

• Immediately recognizing letters and frequent clusters of letters.

• Learning frequent words by sight
• Seeing phrases as wholes
• Using prediction skills within the phrase or clause

Fluency should be the aim of every reading and writing lesson. It should increase as
learners progress from beginning to advanced readers and writers. Fluency enables
learners to read and write with more understanding. They gain this skill through practice
and observation


Critical reading skills are the ability to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize what one reads.
They are the ability to see relationships of ideas and use them as an aid in reading.

Here are some examples of critical reading skills:

• Seeing questions and expecting answers

• Seeing cause and effect
Example: Being able to supply the correct word in a clause such as this one:

o “If you drop it, it will b...”

• Seeing steps in a process

Example: Being able to supply the correct word in a clause such as this one:

o “Pull up a chair and s...”

• Seeing comparisons

Example: Being able to supply the correct word in a phrase such as this one:

o “As big as an e...”

• Seeing generalization and itemization

Example: Being able to supply the correct word in a phrase such as this one:

o “Fruits that grow in our village are ...”

As readers make sense of what they read, they use various relationships of ideas to aid
recognition and fluency.

Critical reading as a goal includes the ability to evaluate ideas socially or politically.


1. You don't have to be a great reader to get the point.

Some people read fast and remember everything. Others read slowly and take a couple of
times to get all the information. It doesn't matter, really, so long as when you read, you
get the information you're seeking.

2. Know WHY you're reading.

Are you reading for entertainment or to learn something? Decide why you're reading
before you start and you'll greatly improve your comprehension and your enjoyment.

3. You don't need to read everything.

Not every magazine, letter, and email you receive contains information you need. In fact,
most of it is simply junk. Throw it away, hit the delete key! Just doing this will double
the amount of time you have available to read.

4. You don't need to read all of what you DO read.

Do you read every article of every magazine, every chapter of every book? If so, you're
probably spending a lot of time reading stuff you don't need.

Be choosy: select the chapters and articles that are important. Ignore the rest.

5. Scan before you read.

Look at the table of contents, index, topic headers, photo captions, etc. These will help
you determine if, a) you have a real interest in this reading, and b) what information
you're likely to get from it.

6. Prioritize your reading.

You can't read everything all at once (and wouldn't want to). If it's important, read it now.
If it's not, let it wait.

7. Optimize your reading environment.

You'll read faster and comprehend more if you read in an environment that's comfortable
for you.

8. Once you start, don't stop!

Read each item straight through. If you finish and have questions, go back and re-read the
pertinent sections. If you don't have questions, you got what you needed and are ready to
move on.

9. Focus.

Remember, you're reading with a purpose, so focus on that purpose and the material. If
you lose interest or keep losing your place, take a break or read something else. You can
keep track of where you are by following along with your hand. This simple technique
helps you focus and increase your concentration.

10. Practice!
The more you read, the better reader you'll become (and smarter, too)! So, feed your
mind: read!