Reading Comprehension


So what can my child read now to help prepare for the SAT as well as upper school years? I would like to say anything, but that is not quite the case. Reading comprehension sections of the SAT cover a very broad spectrum of subjects and include a wide range of vocabulary. Why can’t the child read TV Guide, Sports Illustrated, or Soap Opera Digest? While there may be nothing wrong with these publications, they are designed for attention and sales, not reading improvement. Most current media aimed at the general public is produced in “sound bite” writing which frequently does not include even complete sentences, much less the complex variety found in the SAT verbal section. Reading which is intended to develop a character and his nature helps one understand philosophical approaches which ought to be the heart of any society. Themes in literature (such as good vs. evil or using one’s ability to solve a problem) are the essentials of reading comprehension. Understanding the character, what motivates him, what circumstances he must overcome or deal with, and what makes him tick are valuable comprehension skills needed for the SAT. Reading from diverse sources of good literature will increase much more than just vocabulary diversity. The link between habitual reading and vocabulary skill is certainly one of the strongest in the reading chain. Let me suggest these other known factors linked to habitual reading of good literature: First reading in context develops a sense of tone, which is the author’s purpose and directs his entire reason for writing the work. A grasp of contextual nuance is a primary key to reading comprehension. Second, good reading results in good writing. Well-written literature contains complex sentences and clause variety designed to reveal and intertwine characters with plot while keeping the reader’s attention. Subtle choices in diction become tools of persuasion. Many a poor reader ( and sadly, many a TV remake) has totally missed Jonathan Swift’s scathing satire of British government gone awry or has not been able to grasp the allegory of socialist failure in George Orwell’s works.