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Developing reading comprehension

The 'simple view of reading', explained fully in Appendix 1 of the Independent review of the teaching of early reading (the Rose Report) and referenced below, identifies two dimensions to reading: word recognition and language comprehension. Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading but this goal cannot be achieved unless children can recognise the words on the page.

This document focuses on comprehension and considers the language skills and cognitive resources that play a part in developing reading comprehension, including the important roles of inference and deduction (reasoning). It also examines how explicit teaching of certain strategies such as summarising and recognising degrees of importance can support the reader's comprehension. This document only briefly touches on teaching approaches that help develop comprehension. However, many such examples can be found in the Primary National Strategy's set of flyers on reading comprehension and in the guidance on shared and guided reading.

Reading comprehension is a highly interactive process that takes place between a reader and a text. Individual readers will bring variable levels of skills and experiences to these interactions. These include language skills, cognitive resources and world knowledge. Any act of reading occurs within a particular sociocultural and emotional context. This consists of elements such as the child's home culture, their previous experiences of reading and being read to, their expectations that reading should carry meaning, their motivation, their view of themselves as a reader, the purpose for reading the text, the cultural value placed on reading and the reading environments the reader experiences. While the purpose of this document is to concentrate on looking closely at the development of comprehension skills, this broader context and its influences should be borne in mind.