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Empowering Teachers
 home >> Essentials for Reading Success: Components of Reading: Comprehension: Before Reading

A Florida State University Center

Before Reading

Before reading, the teacher creates a support system that helps the student to construct meaning during the reading process. This support and the reader characteristics influence how well the student integrates and comprehends the information presented in print. Although before reading activities take time, the result will be a better understanding of the text.

Activate Prior Knowledge and Engagement

Activating and expanding on prior knowledge and experiences related to the text increases the likelihood the student will understand and remember what they will read.
  • Preview the text in a way that promotes student interest
  • Integrate the student’s prior knowledge and experiences with the text
  • Guide discussions to dispel false facts, concepts, principles, or propositions they may have of the topic
  • Make informed predictions about what may happen based on the title and illustrations
  • Provide several questions to guide the student’s reading

Features of the Text

Teachers should identify the TEXT GENRE and provide a brief description of the text structure.

Literary Texts
(short stories, novels)
Literary non-fiction
(biographies, essays, speeches)
Expressed through story grammar (characters, setting, plot, problem/solution) Often expressed through story grammar and provides factual information Ideas are communicated in a more imaginative form, often involving abstract language

Informational Texts
The structural features change according to the informational text. The most common pattern contains a description, sequence, and/or cause and effect.

Define Difficult/Important Vocabulary

Teachers should identify vocabulary found in the text that may be unknown or confusing prior to reading
  • Describe language features (e.g., vocabulary, syntax, expressions) that may influence meaning
  • Define the vocabulary in “student-friendly” definitions or terms
  • Engage student in discussion of words
  • Use the words in sentences