Jeannie Parent

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Online Resources > Traits of Good and Struggling Readers


What Struggling readers do:

Good readers use pictures, their knowledge of sounds and letters, letter blends and the shapes of words,

They don't use all the clues in the surrounding print and by the time they get to the end of the sentence, all meaning is lost.

Experience of subject matter and the flow of language to help them make sense of the text that is laid before them.

They haven't grasped the flow of language or looked for meaning in other areas of the text, such as pictures etc.

They also self correct - if something doesn't make sense, they will try it again and go back and correct themselves.

The reader then gets caught up in a vicious circle, whereby because they are not good at it, they don’t do it often enough which then makes it even harder for them to catch up.

Reading is very much a holistic experience for them and they
look for meaning in the words they read.  

Typically, poor readers don't look for what the text means. They look at it letter-by-letter, word-by-word.  

Good readers ask questions as they read, and they keep reading to find the answers.  
•  Have your children tell what questions they want to have
answered as they read more of the story.  
•  Who ?  What ?  Where ?  Why ?  When ?  
•  Good readers evaluate what they read by asking the
following questions after they've finished reading:  
•  How do you feel about the story and why? Could this story
really happen?

Poor readers often do not...
• draw on background knowledge as they read;
• make predictions as they read;
• visualize the events of a text as they read;
• recognize confusion as they read;
• recognize a text's structure /organization as they read;
• identify/recognize a purpose for reading;
• monitor their strategy use according to the purpose for reading the

Good readers make predictions about what will happen next.
use pictures and other details to predict what might happen in a story, or to figure out things the author doesn't say directly.  

There is no right or wrong when predictions are based on the story.
These predictions make it easier to understand what comes
next and significantly add to the enjoyment of reading. It is
rewarding to anticipate where the plot may lead, and then
watch it unfold. Often an author will purposely lead the
reader to a false expectation, so that the reader can enjoy the surprise of a different outcome. The reader will never have surprises if he has made no predictions. Getting new readers to trust their predictions, and to recover when their
predictions are wrong, is a critical part of empowering students with the skill of understanding.

Students do not necessarily think while they are reading.

Good readers understand what they read. They reread, find
answers to questions and change predictions as they get new
Have your children discuss why some of their predictions
might change.

Notice WHO writes the books they read.

Do NOT notice authors.

Talk about books and stories with others

Do NOT talk about books/stories

Consider what they already know about the topic

Do NOT preview or think about what they know before reading

Establish a purpose for reading

Do NOT know purpose for reading.

Constantly check their comprehension to be sure they understand

Do NOT self-check comprehension

Pay attention to the task of reading

Do NOT know what they have read when they have “finished”

Good readers always come across new words and they use clues
to figure out how to say the words and what they mean.  
Have your children do the following:
•  Read to the end of the sentence or paragraph to see if it makes sense. Sometimes the words around a new word can
•  Sound out the letters or word parts. How does the word
begin? How does the word end? What word parts do you
•  Look for other clues. Look at pictures or think of other
words that look like the new word.

Good readers can often see a pattern or the direction that the author is going.
Infer the author’s attitude toward the subject and the audience

Often have a difficult time seeing patterns of behaviors or seeing other than what is blatantly obvious – implied thoughts are frustrating and bewildering.

Generally good readers make fewer miscues than less proficient readers, they may actually make as many or more miscues involving pronouns and simple function words – the so-called basic sight words.  This occurs because they are reading to construct meaning, rather than to identify words.

A good reader can summarize a story by telling the main points. Have your children give you a summary of the story. Have them tell you the characters, the setting, the problem, the events and the ending of the story. If they are reading an
informational story they can tell you the main points and the

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