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“7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It!”, by Susan Zimmerman and Chryse Hutchins, offers tips and strategies based on cutting-edge research and more than ten years of use in hundreds of classrooms.
The book demystifies reading and gives practical advice. The seven keys to unlock reading are
- Create mental images: Good readers create visual, auditory and other sensory images as they read, and become emotionally involved.
- Use background knowledge: Good readers use their relevant prior knowledge before, during and after reading — to enhance their understanding.
- Ask questions: Good readers generate questions before, during and after reading to clarify meaning, make predictions, and focus on what’s important.
- Make inferences: Good readers use their prior knowledge and information from what they read to make predictions, seek answers to question, draw conclusions, and create interpretations — and deepen their understanding of the text.
- Determine the most important ideas or themes: Good readers identify key ideas or themes as they are reading, and they can distinguish what is important and what is not.
- Synthesize information: Good readers track their thinking as it evolves during reading, to get overall meaning.
- Use fix-up strategies: Good readers are aware of when they’ve understood and when they haven’t — if they have trouble withspecific words, phrases or passages, they use problem-solving strategies including skipping ahead, rereading, asking questions, using a dictionary, reading aloud.
It doesn’t matter, say the authors, whether what they’re reading is Reader’s Digest or a calculus textbook.
Eight chapters are “Reading for Life”, “Motion Picture of the Mind”, “Making Connections”, “Why, What, Where, Who, and How”, “Weaving Sense Into Words”, “What’s Important and Why”, “Cultivating Awareness”, and “Visible and Invisible Reading Ingredients”.
There is an Afterword (sic), and a bibliography of professional literature as well as good books for kids to read. And importantly, an index.
Each chapter contains useful strategies to engage young readers, as well as snatches of relevant texts as individual techniques are being discussed. In addition, there are specific sections within chapters dedicated to preschool readers, emerging readers and advancing readers.
In later posts, I will share some of these strategies with you.
Susan Zimmerman is the coauthor of “Mosaic of Thought”, an educational bestseller, and cofounder of Denver’s Public Education and Business Coalition. Chryse Hutchins is a national and international reading consultant who has been a staff developer for the Denver PEB Coalition, and is adjunct professor of literacy at the University of Denver.
“7 Keys to Comprehension” is published by Random House’s Three Rivers Press, 2003. ISBN 0-7615-1549-6.
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