Reading Comprehension: 5 Ways to Promote Real Reading

Reading comprehension is a vital skill for elementary students. We all know that one of the best ways to foster reading comprehension is to have the students read “just right” books. We want our students to enjoy the experience of genuine reading that promotes critical thinking, empathy, and creativity.

What about the fake readers? In this case, the book level doesn’t matter. Fake readers will not be able to grow their reading comprehension skills regardless of the text in front of them. In this blog post, we will explore strategies to help educators guide their young learners toward becoming authentic “real” readers who engage deeply with texts and stop the fake reading.

These are are really reading to help their reading comprehension.

What is fake reading?

“Fake reading” refers to the act of pretending to engage in reading without actually comprehending or actively processing the content. It occurs when a person gives the appearance of reading by flipping through pages or staring at a book, but their attention and focus are elsewhere, resulting in a lack of genuine understanding of the material. It could be as subtle as going through the pages at an appropriate rate (but not reading them) or as obvious as having the book closed.

How we you teach real reading?

I have five lessons that I teach my students to encourage real reading in the classroom. If you would like to dive deeper with additional (free) resources, make sure you read all the way to the end.

Modeling to Support Reading Comprehension

Real reading vs. fake reading is one of my favorite reading lessons. I start by introducing this poem from the wonderful poetry book, Lunch Money.

This poem does a great job showing a student engaged in real reading.

After reading the poem, we talk about how it is obvious that Annie is focused on her reading or engaged in “real reading”. Next, we list the ways you can tell if someone is really reading or just “fake reading”.

Then comes the fun part. I call the students up to the front of the room in groups of 4-5. Students bring a book and act out “real reading”, and then they have a blast modeling “fake reading”. I take their pictures and post them to serve as reminders throughout the year.

Show yourself as a Reader

It is important for students to see you as a reader so you can foster an engaging learning environment full of real readers and real reading comprehension. When students see their teachers as avid readers, it helps build a bond of teacher and student readers.

One way I like to show myself as a reader is to share what I have been reading. I bring in a variety of chapter books books, cookbooks, novels, and other reading material that I use on a regular basis. I talk about the purpose of each one, why I enjoy them, and how get the most out of each book.

Promote a Culture of Reading

Having a wide variety of books for student choice is critical to get your students to participate in “real reading”. Use the library, Scholastic, garage sales, and accept donations. Basically do whatever you can to ensure that students have books they are able and willing to read. I also love the website for finding great books for students to read next.

Try this website to help your students find just right books.

Teach Reading Comprehension Strategies

Throughout the year, you will be teaching students reading strategies like making connections, asking questions, and summarizing. As you do this, go back to the importance of “real reading” to support reading comprehension. Teach strategies like rereading if students catch themselves fake reading.

Use Read Aloud Time to Model Reading Behaviors

Read aloud time is the perfect time to teach just about any reading comprehension strategy. I like to use this time to model how I am holding the book, reading with expression, and going back to clarify when needed. It’s also fun to model fake reading at this time. Kids love that! You get bonus points if your read aloud is a book that promotes a love of reading!

How do you know who is fake reading?

Despite our best efforts, there are students who need an extra boost of encouragement to engage in real reading for an extended period of time. If you would like furhter information about identifying and planning for these students, you are in luck! If you fill in the form below, I will immediately send you a reading interest inventory, a reading engagement survey, and some strategies for small group lessons to get your students into the “real reading zone”.

Incorporating these powerful reading engagement strategies into your teaching repertoire, can help you ignite a passion for reading in your students and rid your classroom of fake reading.