Jeannie Parent

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Online Resources > Traits of Good and Struggling Readers


What Struggling readers do:

Before Reading:   
1.  "Activate" their background knowledge on the subject.  
2.  Question and wonder.  
3.  Know their purpose for reading.  
4.  Look for the structure of the piece of reading.  
5.  Believe they are in control of the reading process

Before Reading:   
1.  Start reading without thinking about the subject.  
2.  Do not know why they are reading -- except that it is an assignment.

During Reading:  
1.  Give their complete attention to the reading task.  
2.  Keep a constant check on their comprehension of the
reading material.  
3.  Stop to use a "figure-it-out" strategy when they do not
understand what they read.  
4.  Know that they can make sense of it eventually with use of
5.  Look for important ideas and see how details relate to the
6.  Visualize, "Go to the movies in their head."  
7.  Make inferences and connections.  
8.  Accept the challenge of being frustrated or confused and
deal with it.  
9.  Realize that the problem may be the way the author wrote
rather than the reader's inability to understand.

During Reading:  
1.  Do not know whether they understand or do not understand.  
2.  Do not monitor their own comprehension.  
3.  Seldom use any "figure-it-out" strategies.  
4.  View reading as looking at words and turning pages -- the quicker the better.  
5.  Are sometimes adept at phonic analysis but do not go for meaning.
6.  (They can say the words but don't know what they mean.)  
7.  Can be bored by the process of reading.

After Reading:  
1.  Decide if they achieved their goal for making meaning from reading.  
2.  Evaluate their comprehension.  
3.  Summarize what they read.  
4.  Seek additional information if curious to know more.  
5.  Think through the information and decide whether it was
useful or not.  

After Reading:   
1.  Do not know what they have read.  
2.  Do not follow reading with comprehension self-check.  
3.  See no connections between what they read and anything else.

Good readers take chances - risk being wrong in order to learn more about the meaning. (They know it’s OK to make a mistake.)

1.  Good readers look for meaning instead of just looking at
individual letters or words.  
2.  Good readers guess at words they are not sure of, or just
skip those words (if the words are not essential to the
meaning of the text.)  
3.  Good readers know that reading must make sense.  
4.  Good readers think about what they already know about a
subject, before they start reading.  
5.  Good readers try not to read too slowly.
6.  Use Prior Knowledge
7.  Make and Confirm Predictions
8.  Adjust Reading Rate – slower in more difficult text
9. Self-Question
10.  Create Mental Images
11.  Use Context to Confirm Meaning infer – read between the lines
12.  Use Text Structure and Format
13.  Use Graphic Aids
14.  Use Reference Resources
15. Read Ahead
16. Reread
17.  Summarize and Paraphrase
18.  Good readers select appropriately leveled reading material and
19.  Improve as readers with practice  
20.  Good readers read for longer periods of time  
21.  Good readers read fluently, quickly and smooth  
22.  Good readers use a variety of strategies while reading  
23.  Good readers are members of a literate community of
24.  Read from aesthetic (emotional, lived-through experience) or efferent (extracting factual information) stances & have an awareness of the author’s style and purpose.
25.  Read both expository and narrative texts
26.  Know that different genre require different reading
27.  Spontaneously generate questions at different points in the reading process
28.  Are problem solvers who have the ability to discover new information for themselves
29.  judge the narrator’s reliability (should we believe the
narrator & to what degree)
30.  identify plot elements – such as major & minor characters, select main ideas & significant & supporting details

1.  They cannot decode
2.  Pauses during word attack, stumbles over the words
3.  Doesn’t use pictures (illustrations) for meaning
4. Small vocabulary
5.  too few opportunities to read outside of school
6.  Poor motivation, lack of confidence or lots of avoidance behavior
7.  Unaware of reading strategies – view the purpose of reading as “knowing all the words.”
8. Can’t predict
9.  They have a poor attitude
10.  Lacks phonemic awareness
11. Often repeats
12.  Lacks sight word vocabulary
13.  Does not like to read, won’t read
14.  Chooses short books and or books with lots of pictures (or library
books that are too difficult to impress others)
15. Behavior problem
16.  Can’t understand what they have read
17.  Lacks background/language experiences
18.  Fear of reading out loud in front of peers
19.  Low frustration level
20. Easily distracted
21.  Lacks confidence – needs lots of teachers support
22.  Not a risk taker
23.  Needs more parental support with respect to learning, achievements, and school progress
24.  View reading as boring and painful

Sources of the above lists

30 Years of Research…: When Is a Research Summary Not a Research Summary?  In In Defense of Good Teaching: What Teachers Need to Know about the Reading Wars
, edited by K. Goodman, 143-57. York, ME: Stenhouse

Garan, E. M. (2002).  Resisting reading mandates: How to triumph with the truth.
Heinemann, Portsmouth: NH.

Kamil, M. L., Mosenthal, P. B., Person, P. D., & Barr, R. (Eds.). (2000). Handbook of reading research
(Vol. 3). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Phinney, M. Y. (1988). Reading with the troubled reader.
Heinemann, Portsmouth: NH.

Wilhelm, J. D. (2001). Improving comprehension with think-aloud strategies.
Scholastic Professional Books, New York.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction.
Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health

Snow, C. E., Burns, M. S. , & Griffin, P. G. (Eds). (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children.
Washington, DC: National
Academy Press.


Copyright August 2, 2003 Donna McCaw
Please contact me for permission to use this list.
It is not complete and is continuously being updates.

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