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Reading Skill What is It and How to Build Reading Skills

Reading Skill: What is It and How to Build Reading Skills?

Reading skill is the ability to derive meaning from a written text. This means that a person with this skill can make sense of the written information. And he/she possesses sound reading comprehension skills. Reading is an imperative skill that drives long-term success. In fact, reading ability and the knowledge to understand the written text accurately makes way for developing more skills and related linguistic abilities.

To many stakeholders, reading is an underestimated skill. In fact, many of us do not know that reading comprehension and this overall ability translates seamlessly through other related skills such as ‘Writing’. There are a number of advantages of developing these skills in this highly skill-oriented world!

Let’s deep-dive into some of these and explore fascinating pieces of information to help our kids hone these skills!

What are Reading Skills?

We have already discussed the definition of this reading as a skill. But to break down further, we can understand that reading allows us to derive meaning from written symbols (texts). And skills are a type of work that needs some kind of special training.

When a child develops these skills, he/she is capable of using various reading techniques/methods such as locating keywords/information, summarizing, finding context clues, etc. The most common types of reading skills are:

  1. To decode a word
  2. Phonological awareness
  3. Comprehension
  4. Fluency

Before we get down to the ways of honing these skills, let’s take a look at some more definitions first.

What is Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension completes an individual’s skill to read. Because this means that an individual is able to understand the meaning of the text correctly. And he/she can combine the new understanding with any prior knowledge successfully. 

For example, in case of a child, he/she might be able to read a text, but it is possible that the kid is not able to understand the real meaning that the text is meant to convey.

Types of Reading Techniques

Reading techniques help us to scan through the written text faster and with a better understanding. As per experts, the most common techniques are:

  1. Intensive– This type of reading is structured and leads to better retention of information. It is widely used to improve the English comprehension of school students. And mostly requires a teacher-led classroom for these age groups.
  2. Extensive– It aims at creating a broader understanding of the written text, mostly for educational purposes only.

What are Some Strategies to Read Better?

Globally academicians and experts have acknowledged some strategies and reading techniques to gain more understanding of the text in less time. Some of these are as follows:

  • Skimming– It is used to get the main/general idea of the content. It requires a higher capacity of organizing information and retaining it in one’s mind.
  • Scanning– The reader locates the relevant information without going through the complete text.  
  • Summarizing– To paraphrase the text in one’s own words in order to extract useful information and retain it further.
  • Predicting– Making use of the headings, table of contents, and pictures and using personal experience/knowledge to predict what the text means to convey along with the upcoming content.  
Strategies to read better

Other than developing the ability to derive meaning, we can also speed up the entire process through some more strategies. Here’s a look at these now.

As per a journal, we can also speed up our child’s reading ability/skill through the following methods:

  1. Pointer– Holding a scale or placing a finger under the line to follow it.
  2. Scanning– To locate important information by moving eyes quickly across the text.
  3. Pacer– Tracing with the use of a pen/pencil.
Ways to speed reading ability

Now that we know the importance of reading skills. Let’s discuss some ways to hone these.

How to Improve Reading Skills?

  • Reading for enjoyment- The easiest way to sharpen these skills is to read every day for enjoyment. A student can easily select interesting content (non-academic or academic). And focus on learning unfamiliar vocabulary by jotting down new words and finding meanings simultaneously.
  • Summarizing and taking notes- A reader can make notes alongside. And summarize the content through other methods like creating charts, diagrams, tables, etc.
  • Scrutinizing text Features- Scanning through the text by focusing on sub-headings, titles, highlighted content, etc. largely helps in developing this skill. In addition, it also improves one’s predictive skills. 

Essential Skills for Reading Success

For reading success, a student needs to master critical components such as language in oral form, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, etc. As parents/caregivers/stakeholders we can help our kids to master these skills by creating engaging experiences within the formal educational design. However, the same results can also be achieved through informal opportunities as well.  

Common Reading Problems and Their Solutions

The most common reading problems include difficulty in recognizing words, letters or following written instructions. Some children also find it difficult to retain the information in their minds. Broadly, these problems can be categorized as the ones related to comprehension, and decoding or phonemics (mostly related to learning disabilities), etc. We can develop reading skills for kids if we overcome their problems.

Teachers/stakeholders need to gauge the difficulties faced by students related to oral language and grammar. And you can also follow the below-mentioned strategies to help your child:

  • Give the child genre-wise choices.
  • Explain to the kid that reading has many benefits, such as exploring different perspectives, gaining knowledge about different cultures and improving one’s vocabulary, etc.
  • Make reading fun with family through bed-time story time etc.
  • Provide enough practice such as finding answers from comprehension passages etc.
  • Take the kid to libraries, book fairs and exhibitions, etc. with a collection of captivating books.
  • Involve other senses by using more digital resources (such as the ones used in top online schooling platforms or other virtual platforms)

What is the Level of Indian Students in Terms of Reading Skills?

In India, 65.8% of the overall population lives in rural areas. And problems of mastering foundational literacy skills need greater attention in this dominant section of our population. The Annual Status of Education Report (2022) highlights some issues with the reading abilities of school children in rural India. In fact, this issue related to reading aggravated further after the pandemic.

The chart below shows the percentage of children in a particular standard, who could not read the text of the same standard.

Are we Doing Enough as Parents?

Do you know that the reading achievement of Indian students is greatly influenced by the home literacy environment?

And yes! Just to add this also means that parents who take extra initiatives to nurture these skills in their kids, get better results eventually.

Unfortunately, we still fail to understand the advantages of these abilities for our kids. In fact, data shows that 90% of the Indian parents did not have any library card, and 77% of the same group did not subscribe to any magazine at home. And 55% of them did not even have any stock of children’s books at home.

The condition is dismal. But at the same time, it is also workable. Sparing time for reading strategies by making little changes in our everyday schedules. And a never- ending zeal to improve our child’s reading ability is all we need!

Problems with Indian Student's Home Environment

Final Thoughts

The importance of reading skills is paramount to building skills for future academic and non-academic success. In the present times, both students and stakeholders have the benefit of technology to sharpen these skills through the elements of digital platforms. However, it requires patience and perseverance to build this habit and sustain it well.

In India, the learning loss created by the pandemic has dipped the reading abilities of Indian students. Hence, we need to gird up and nurture this skill in our younger generations. Because only then our kids will be able to discover the unmatched joy of diving into the magical world of books- THEIR TRUE FRIENDS!

Thanks for Reading!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Reading Skill Definition
    Reading skill is the ability to derive meaning from a written text. This means that a person with this skill can make sense of the written information. And he/she possesses sound reading comprehension skills.
  • What are the 5 basic reading skills in English?
    The 5 basic reading skills are:
    • Phonics
    • Decoding
    • Vocabulary
    • Fluency
    • Sentence understanding 
  • Why is reading a skill important for a student?
    Reading is directly related to student success. Because it helps in the overall development of a student’s mind. It also improves one’s memory power, concentration, and thinking skills. And also supports building a good vocabulary.
  • What is the concept of reading?
    The concept of reading includes the ability to recognize written texts (phonemes), understand/comprehend and develop fluency i.e. the capability to read quickly.
  • What are some tips for parents to build reading skills in children?
    As a parent, you can do a lot to support building this skill in your kid. Help your child to select the right reading material. And use some positive reinforcement techniques when your kid completes simple goals (like reading a page, chapter and summarizing it, etc.). You can also create a good family atmosphere by reading stories on the weekends or at bedtime to boost these habits.

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