The key to reading comprehension: TALK!


In discussions about children learning to read, we hear a lot about the importance of reading aloud to children. What we don’t hear? How important it is to talk with children about what they read. Did you know that every single deeply researched approach to reading comprehension instruction is rooted in having discussions about text?


While it would be very cool to be able to jump inside a child's head to determine what they are thinking, we can’t! Talking with children about what they read – and eliciting their thinking – is the only way we can know what they are thinking. Without talk, we can’t know what they are thinking and, perhaps more importantly, we can’t help mediate their misunderstandings or find out places where they are quite comprehending. Don't have time for talk? If we say we don't have time to talk with children about the texts they are reading, then we are saying we don't have time to teach reading comprehension.


The research on talk in classrooms is really clear. More talk = more learning. But all too often classrooms are pretty quiet places and reading comprehension is documented through worksheets. If we want to shift reading comprehension outcomes, we have to shift the talk norms in classrooms. We can do this by providing students with frequent opportunities to think and reason, and to do that thinking and reasoning in conversation with others. You’ll be amazed at what unfolds!

Want to learn more about the importance of talk?

Check out the Accountable Talk framework

Learn more about teaching talk norms and routines in classrooms

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