By Aimee Sawyer, Product Marketing Manager at Khan Academy Kids and former teacher
Click here to download the free reading comprehension worksheets.
Kids read stories all the time! But are they really understanding what they read or what’s being read to them? Comprehension is an essential skill—not just for reading, but for all other subjects as well (National Reading Panel). Khan Academy Kids is here to help make story time more enriching by teaching reading comprehension one skill at a time. Read below to find free lessons and reading comprehension worksheets that teach skills like recognizing key details, making predictions, learning about characters, and more.
Each reading comprehension worksheet pairs with a book in the free Khan Academy Kids app. Click here to see how to access books in the app, and click here to learn more about the books we offer and how they can be used in the classroom.
“Comprehension is the reason for reading. If readers can read the words but do not understand or connect to what they are reading, they are not really reading. Good readers are both purposeful and active and have the skills to absorb what they read, analyze it, make sense of it, and make it their own.”
Finding key details
Key details are the important pieces of information in a story. Key details answer questions like who, what, when, where, why, and how. When a reader knows the answers to basic questions about the story, they have the foundation to build a deeper understanding of the text.
Learning about characters
Before diving into characterization, kids need to first be able to identify the characters in a story. Then readers can turn their attention to the characters’ attributes. What do the characters like? What kinds of thoughts or feelings do they experience in the story? What do they decide to do when they run into a tricky situation? The answers to these questions help us get to know the characters.
Kids practice learning about characters by noticing their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Download the free Khan Academy Kids app for more practice questions like these. You can find this lesson in the Reading tab under “Key Ideas and Details.”
The setting of a story provides important context for all of the events that happen in a story. Readers can find the setting by looking for clues in the text and the pictures.
Beginning, Middle, and End
All stories have a beginning, middle, and end. It’s important that kids can put the events of a story in order and eventually learn the purpose of each part of the story. The beginning of the story introduces the reader to the characters and the setting. The middle of the story usually introduces the problem of the story. The end is usually when the problem gets resolved!
Retelling a story seems simple at first—all you have to do is say what happened in the story you just read! However, retelling will eventually lead to the more sophisticated skill of summarization. We want to make sure kids understand all the elements involved: identifying the most important details, putting events in order, and condensing it all into a sentence or two.
Finding the lesson of a story
Most stories have a main character who encounters a problem and then learns an important lesson in the process of solving it. As readers, we get to join fictional characters on their journey and learn a lesson alongside them!
When we’re reading stories, there’s a natural impulse to wonder, “What happens next?” It’s almost second nature to imagine the possibilities. We can prompt kids’ imagination by asking them specific prediction questions such as “What do you think the main character will do when they go to school the next day?” When kids engage with questions like this, it requires them to think about two things: 1) what they know about the story, and 2) patterns they’ve seen in the real world or in other stories.
We hope these lessons and reading comprehension worksheets are helpful as kids grow in their reading comprehension skills. Download the free Khan Academy Kids app to access the lessons mentioned above and a whole lot more!
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Basics: Reading comprehension. Reading Rockets. (n.d.). https://www.readingrockets.org/reading-101/reading-and-writing-basics/reading-comprehension
National Reading Panel, 2000, Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature of Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction, https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pubs/nrp/Documents/report.pdf