4th Grade Reading Comprehension

4-Year-Old Understands More Than His 4th-Grade Brother

A concerned parent wants Dr. Linda’s help for her 4th grade son’s reading comprehension.

low reading comprehension in 4th gradeDear Dr. Linda,

My son is in fourth grade and he loves to read. He even reads the newspaper. But he has no idea what he’s reading! He reads stories to his younger brother who’s four. My four year old can tell me about the story, but his fourth grade brother can’t. I’m concerned there’s something wrong with him.


Dear Janet,

What’s happening is that he’s learned to read as if he’s reading a word list. He is not visualizing an image in his head nor is he thinking about the story. He also may not be focusing. He’s just reading words.

For starters, talk about the story before he reads it. Talk about who or what it will be about, where it may take place, when it occurs (past, present, future). Look at the pictures, read the back cover, look at the chapter titles. Now, as he reads he will be looking for information to see if he was right or wrong. In either case, he will be focused on the content, not only the words.

Next, be sure he understands the vocabulary. Many children do not understand what they’re reading because they do not know the meaning of the words.

Also, have him ask you questions about the story. This will keep him engaged in the story as he looks for questions to stump you.

Finally, find reading material that interests him and share the reading. Take time to talk about the story as you read along.

Be sure he also continues to read to his younger brother. It’s not only enjoyable and good for your four year old, it will help your nine year old’s comprehension skills because the stories are easy to understand and when you need to practice a skill, it’s good to begin with “easy.”

I have more columns on poor reading comprehension. Click here for more.

Excerpted from Dr. Linda’s syndicated newspaper column. Share this post with your local newspaper editor and have them contact Dr. Linda Silbert today!

Phonics Centered — Consistent with Orton-Gillingham — Multisensory