When we are older, accomplished readers, we tend to forget what a complex skill reading is. After all, it is simple for us to read. Sometimes older readers who struggled with reading do understand the challenges some of our youngsters face. Readers need to be aware of phonological differences and similarities. They need to be competent decoders. Good readers are fluent, and their comprehension is increased by their fluency. There are many skills that drive reading comprehension study in the schools, and there is a vocabulary that is used to transmit the reading comprehension curriculum. When you are talking to teachers, tutors, and administrators, it is important to know this vocabulary.
Reading Comprehension Skill Vocabulary
Main idea- What the story is about. The story Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is about black children growing up in a racist society during the Depression.
Theme- The lesson that is shown by the story. This is not stated explicitly, but rather by inference. In Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry there are several themes. Racism, self-respect, love, and the importance of family are all explored.
Rising action- All of the parts of the story that contribute to it coming to a climax.
Climax- This is the crisis point of the story where it is most tense.
Falling action- The parts of the story that occur after the climax.
Story resolution- After the climax, the story ends when the story's problems are worked out.
Figure of speech- A word or phrase that is not to be taken literally. Figures of speech include simile, metaphor, idioms, hyperbole, understatement, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and puns. Figures of speech help to illustrate the text in ways that make it interesting. They underscore meanings.
Simile- Using the words "like" and "as" to compare two things that are not alike. For example, "The puppies were as alike as two peas in a pod."
Metaphor- The comparison of two unlike things by using the word "is." For example, "He is a night owl."
Idioms- Phrases that have meaning to native speakers, but do not literally mean what they are inferred to mean. For example, "To shake a leg" in English means for a person to hurry.
Hyperbole- Exaggerating for effect. For example, "Everybody knows that!"
Understatement-- To deliberately make light of a larger event. For example, "It was just a little scratch," when an injury was more serious.
Alliteration- Repeating the beginning sounds of adjacent words. For example, "She sells seashells."
Onomatopoeia- When a word sounds like what it is describing. For example, "Clink went the coin, when he dropped it into the money pile."
Personification- Giving an animal or inanimate object human qualities. For example, "The trees screamed, as they were being tortured by the strong winds."
Pun- The humorous use of words that sound alike or a play with words. For example, "You can tune a guitar, but you cannot tuna fish." Also, "I really wanted a camouflage pair of Crocs, but I couldn't find any."
Paraphrasing- Putting the story into your own words. This is frequently a shortened version of the story, that tells what the reader considers as the important events.
While being well versed in the language and parts of a story shows that a person is educated and can lead to appreciating the author's intent, I think that there are other things that need to be considered in building effective readers. A principle attribute of a good reader is the desire to read. This is developed by having opportunities to read for enjoyment in both the home and the school. People spend time doing what they love! Give kids the chance to learn to love reading.
Here's a book about language for 4th graders up to adult. Have some fun with figures of speech!
It Figures!: Fun Figures of Speech
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