Improving reading comprehension

Author: Lucy Hewitt
Published: 03/02/2022

Reading comprehension resources for English teachers

If there’s one thing that’s clear when looking at Teachit's most popular English resources, it’s that reading comprehension rules. And it’s not surprising. As you’ll know, if students don’t understand what they read, they’re unable to access their learning. This then affects their life chances.

One important thing we can do is to talk to parents and carers about the importance of reading comprehension for learners. Our resource Closing the word gap KS2-3 transition support, published in collaboration with Oxford University Press, is designed to help you to engage with parents of year 6 and 7 children, with a view to tackling the word gap. Share it with parents and teacher colleagues on move-up/transition days, during primary school taster lessons and at open evenings to support children's reading and language development. 

I've also featured a selection of our key stage 3 and 4 reading comprehension worksheets  below, all submitted by experienced English teachers.

KS3 comprehension resources

Simple, but effective... This Reading comprehension exercise includes an extract from Oliver Twist, plus comprehension questions (with model answers). It's perfect for introducing students to 19th century language and/or for a taste of Charles Dickens. 

One of our most popular resources during lockdown and beyond, Comprehension questions on 'The Selfish Giant' by Oscar Wilde is suitable for students who struggle with basic reading comprehension skills. Answers to the questions are also provided.

KS4 comprehension resources

If you are keen to get students to engage with non-fiction, Understanding a 19th century text will do exactly that. It contains an extract from The Story of My Life from My Childhood to Manhood by George Ebers, along with vocabulary and comprehension questions and answers. 

As a Katherine Mansfield fan, I've selected this Unseen text with analysis questions resource (which includes an extract from her short story 'An Ideal Family') in the hope it will engage both you and your students, while providing a good level of challenge.

A perfect night... comprehension questions (which is also included in our teaching pack Journeys) contains an excerpt from Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes and related questions.

Reading comprehension strategies

Great for encouraging wider reading, this Reading strategies checklist can be printed and handed out to students, or stuck into books.

Text deconstruction - a help sheet does what it says on the tin and will encourage students to make meaningful comments on a text.

If you are looking for a step-by-step approach to reading comprehension for struggling readers, Fix it reading is an intervention programme based on practical, evidence-based reading comprehension strategies. It's aim is to build students' confidence and crucially their enjoyment in reading, and the student workbook includes accessible and engaging non-fiction and fiction texts, graphic novels, websites, news articles and fact sheets, chosen specifically to appeal to struggling readers. 

The lessons include inference and decoding activities, prediction and summarising tasks, group reading strategies and tips on using context clues and morphology to build comprehension and help learners to understand the meaning of words. 

If you are looking for more reading comprehension worksheets, try our Comprehension library. 

This article was first published as an Editor's pick newsletter in May 2021. 

Lucy Hewitt

Head of content and former English teacher.