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Dyslexia Diagnosis

3+3 And You Can Read: Easy Comprehension Activities for Families

ImageAs a reading specialist and tutor, I make sure that I provide parents with activities they can use with their children to reinforce good reading. It’s very important to provide simple, yet pithy assignments in between sessions so that children are constantly reading. A recent study has shown that in the course of a school day, students only spend a grand total of 15 minutes a day reading. Students do not become fluent readers by reading only 15 minutes a day!

Struggling and dyslexic readers need even more time to read in order to build fluency, stamina. They also need more exposure to new words and practice thinking while they are reading.

In order to make life easier for the parents I see, I have created a simple program in which parents and their children read 3 different ways and complete 3 reading activities. I choose short books for children to read. Depending on a child’s confidence level, I may start with below-level books, and move to on-level books, and then above-level books to gently push a child toward his or her appropriate reading level.

3+3 Read goes like this:

Day 1: Modeled Reading or Assisted Reading

First I read the book either with the child, letting him or her show me their decoding skills, or I will model the reading of the book for the child. I always start a book by having students make predictions based on the cover, title, and sometimes first or second page of the book. If the book is nonfiction I ask students to tell me what they think they are going to learn from the book. This underscores the concept that nonfiction books are rich with information, but do not have plot lines. If we’re working with a piece of fiction, I asked students what they think the story is going to be about. What is the problem and how will it be solved? I can’t stress it enough that students, even at an early age, can understand the basic structure of every fictional book they will read.

After the student and I have read the nonfiction or fiction book, I then ask the student to check to see if his or her answers were right. I make this a game … like ok, how many points can you get for all the things you thought you were going to learn. It’s simple, but kids love that. They feel like winners.

Day 2: Paired Reading or Criss-Cross Reading + Questions

Paired reading is an activity in which the parent and child take turns reading. It is vitally important that the child follows along as the parent reads. Parents, please let your child use his or her finger, an index card, a text box, or whatever tool he or she may need in order to follow along as you read. Eye-hand coordination is a critical skill that builds good reading habits.

I refer to paired reading as criss-cross reading because this is what I called it when I was working with guided reading groups in my old school district. I used criss-cross reading to model good reading after each child read a page–like partner reading, except I was always the “partner”. This strategy also gives students a chance to hear the pronunciation of words before it is their turn to read, and it gives them some confidence as readers. The word criss cross is makes more sense then paired to younger readers as well.

But I digress!

After the parent and child read, the parent then asks the child basic comprehension questions such as: Who? What? Where? When?

Who = Who was the story about? Who are the major people or animals or things in the story?

Where = Where did the story take place? In a palace? Did the places change?

What = What was the story about? What happened? (Plot)

When = When did the story take place? A long time ago? Could it take place now?

Afterwards, I provide reading discussion cards for the parent to use to further evaluate the child’s understanding of the book. I show them how to turn it into a game. The cards range from explicit questions to implicit questions and force the child to really think about what he or she has read.

Day 3: Independent Reading + Writing Activity

On the last day of reading, the child independently reads the book either out loud or silently. Afterward, the child has to “Give Me Five” or write …

  • Five … of the most important events in the order in which they happened (time order or chronological order)


  • Five … of the most interesting things or facts that the child learned in the book.

If the child has severe writing deficits, then I encourage the parent to write the answers for his or her child. I also use the writing activity as a guide not only for gauge the reading comprehension, but also as a way to evaluate the student’s writing ability and how I can plan instruction.

Length of Time to Complete

I tell parents to give themselves and their children a week to complete all the activities. So if the activities are not done before our next session, that’s ok.

Feedback from Parents

One parent told me how much she loves this activity because it helps her to figure out what to do with the book. Parents don’t have time to think about activities to do with reading … so this provides a quick and easy structure for parents. This same parent told me that she uses the structure for other reading assignments for her daughter. When I retested this same student after four months, I observed that she improved her words per minute (WPM) by 55%. I was delighted and surprised. Other parents have given me similar feedback about how it gives them a nice structure for reading a book without being complicated or infringing too much on the other homework students have.

Here are links to the forms I use:

Three Plus Three and You Can Read

Three Plus Three and You Can Read Older Readers


About Ann Gavazzi

Reading specialist and English teacher with a particular interest in treatment of dyslexia. Also interested in education and education policy at large and current reading research. Owner of the Reading Innovations Center, a tutoring center that specializes in one-to-one tutoring for struggling readers and math students.


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