Reading comprehension strategies for 2nd graders and how to teach them. This post contains affiliate links.

What Successful 2nd-Grade Readers Know and How to Teach It


Reading Comprehension Strategies are Like a Messy Closet

You know how when you try to clean out a closet, things get complicated really fast? Soon you end up with stuff scattered all over the room just so you can get a handle on what the heck you’re working with!




After a while, you see commonalities. You start to put things in piles:

things to donate

things to throw away

things for a different season

Suddenly an overwhelming job seems more do-able. Each item you pull out goes in a pile. Piles are manageable!

Shaping reading comprehension skills into something useful is like organizing a closet.

The list of standards and skills is long! You can throw each one individually at your 2nd-graders but pretty soon it’s like the contents of your closet all over the floor. It’s a complete mess that no one can make sense of!

To get a handle on things, great readers (and teachers) put comprehension strategies into mental “piles.”

You can think of each pile as an understanding about reading.

To improve reading comprehension for 2nd graders, organize your instruction around the following five understandings:


Understanding 1 – What I Read Should Make Sense

You might be thinking Thanks a lot, Captain Obvious! but this isn’t obvious to weaker readers.

In 2nd grade, kids are still building up their phonics skills. They may get to the end of a sentence, satisfied that they’ve decoded each word correctly, but unaware of the sentence’s meaning.

Perhaps the most important understanding about reading is that what is read should make sense.

Watch the video for ways to build up this understanding:



Understanding 2 – Text Has Predictable Patterns

Text can be written about any number of topics, but the same structures are used over and over again. When kids know what to expect and look for in a text, they are more likely to pick out and remember the important parts.

Watch the video for ways to build up this understanding:


Find out more about nonfiction text structures HERE.

Understanding 3 – Author’s Write to Share a Message

By 2nd-grade, kids can take on texts that are more than simple stories or descriptions. They can begin to look for the lesson or message that an author is sharing with them.

Watch the video for ways to build up this understanding:



Understanding 4 – Images Add to a Text’s Meaning

At the 2nd-grade level, most texts include some kind of illustration, photograph, chart, or diagram. Meaning can be pulled from both the text and the images.

Watch the video for ways to build up this understanding:



Understanding 5 – I Can Use Evidence When Talking About Text

When kids are answering questions about text, it’s easy for them to get sidetracked into the things that they feel and have experienced. Sometimes a personal connection to text is important, but most responses to text require some kind of text evidence.

Watch the video for ways to build up this understanding:




The next time you’re drowning in lists of reading standards, remember the 5 piles understandings. Each fragmented strategy supports one of the understandings.

You can simplify strategy learning for your students by going back to the understandings. It might sound like this:

“Today we’re learning about character traits. Noticing character traits will help us to look for the author’s message.”

Now the isolated skill (looking for character traits) fits into a bigger understanding (finding the author’s message).


With the five understandings serving as your framework, you can confidently guide your students toward better reading comprehension!


The activities featured in the videos come from The Big Book of Comprehension Activities for 2nd Grade

The Big Book of Reading Comprehension Activities for 2nd Grade



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What Successful 2nd Grade Readers Know and How to Teach It, Reading comprehension skills and teaching ideas #readingcomprehension #2ndgrade #literacy

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Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun is a former teacher with 8 years of experience in the classroom and a master's degree in early childhood education. She designs engaging, organized classroom resources for 1st-3rd grade teachers.