4 Types of Reading Skills & Reading Comprehension Tips

woman reading book

8 Essential Skills for Reading Success

Reading is an important skill that helps people in many different ways. Our world is full of reading material in various forms that can give us knowledge and an element of enjoyment. Perfecting this skill can be as simple as casual reading in your free time, to advanced reading activities with critical reading practices. Whether you’re starting at a basic level or a high level of performance, exploring the types of reading that work for you can help you build pleasurable reading practices for your daily life.

Additionally, reading for pleasure has many benefits. It can improve vocabulary, increase concentration and focus, and provide a way to relax and de-stress. It also aids in a more robust understanding of comprehension. In conclusion, reading is a fundamental skill that helps people in multiple areas of their life. Whether it be for work, school, or personal enjoyment, reading is an important tool that everyone should take advantage of.

Though there are many different types of reading skills and comprehension techniques, these eight essentials skills for reading success provide a strong foundation for any reader:

1. Print Awareness

Print awareness is the understanding that books and other reading materials are created with a specific layout. It is essential for reading English effectively. This includes an awareness of the front and back cover, spine, and title page. It also encompasses an understanding of how to hold a book, turn pages, and read from left to right and top to bottom. Furthermore, print awareness also entails understanding that words are made up of letters that create meaning.

2. Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds-known as phonemes-in spoken words. It is an important skill for beginning readers because it helps them to understand that words are made up of separate speech sounds, or phonemes. In other words, it’s a key form of reading fluency. There are three types of phonemic awareness skills: auditory discrimination, auditory blending, and auditory segmenting.

3. Phonics

Phonics is a method of teaching reading that focuses on the relationship between the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they represent. The goal of phonics instruction is to help students understand the alphabetic principle, which is the idea that sounds are represented by written symbols. There are three main types of phonics instruction: whole-language phonics, embedded phonics, and explicit phonics.

4. Fluency

Fluency can be defined as the ability to read a text accurately, with speed and proper expression. When readers are fluent, they are able to focus more on the meaning of the text, rather than on decoding the words. There are three main types of reading fluency: oral reading fluency, silent reading fluency, and sight word fluency

5. Vocabulary

In general, vocabulary refers to the words that we use in our everyday language. However, when discussing vocabulary within the context of reading, it refers to the reader’s knowledge of words. There are three types of vocabularies: listening, speaking, and reading. 

6. Comprehension

Comprehension is the ability to read a text and understand its meaning. This involves being able to identify the main ideas, make inferences, and draw conclusions. It is important to be able to do more than just read the words on the page; you must be able to understand what they mean and how they fit together. Good comprehension skills are important not only in your reading time but in everyday life. 

7. Critical Analysis

Critical Analysis is a type of reading that goes beyond summarizing a text. When you read critically, you examine the arguments that an author makes, considering both their strengths and weaknesses. You might also consider the structure of the text, the style of writing, and the overall effect of the piece. In order to read critically, you need to be able to think objectively about the material you are reading. This means setting aside your own biases and assumptions, and considering the argument from different perspectives.

8. Metacognition

Metacognition is an important reading strategy that refers to a reader’s awareness and understanding of their own thought process. Types of metacognition include cognitive, emotional, and social. When reading, cognitive metacognition includes text decoding skills such as phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency.

book stack

The Classification of Reading Skills


Decoding is concerned with the sounds of letters and clusters of letters, and with the relationship between these sounds and the meaning of words. It is a relatively slow and effortful process. This is a system where students learn to read by sounding out each word. Decodable reading is the most difficult type of reading, but it leads to the best overall understanding of how language works.

Vocabulary Range

When we talk about the range of someone’s vocabulary, we’re referring to the number and types of words that they know. This can be estimated by looking at the variety of words that a person uses in everyday speech, or by administering a formal test. Vocabulary range is important for reading comprehension because understanding a text depends on knowing the meaning of the words used. In general, people with a wider vocabulary range will find it easier to understand what they read.

Comprehension Monitoring

Comprehension monitoring refers to a reading mode that adjusts your reading strategies in order to better understand a text. For example, a reader might slow down and re-read a particular passage if he or she is having difficulty understanding it. Alternatively, a reader might skip over certain parts of the text if they are not relevant to his or her purpose for reading. In either case, the goal is to ensure that the reader is able to comprehend the text as effectively as possible. Comprehension monitoring is an important reading strategy for all readers, but it is especially important for those who are reading difficult or challenging texts. 

Language Conventions

Language conventions refer to the correct way of speaking and writing in a language. They include grammar, punctuation, and spelling. While some people argue that there are no absolute rules when it comes to language conventions, they do exist to help people communicate effectively. Types of reading such as persuasive and functional texts rely on language conventions to convey meaning. For example, if a text is written in all capital letters, it may be seen as shouting. However, if the same text is written using proper grammar and punctuation, it will be seen as more professional.


Attention is a reading skill that refers to the ability to focus on a particular stimulus while ignoring other distractions. It is a necessary component of all types of reading, from simple word recognition to complex comprehension. Types of attention skills that are important for reading include phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency.

World Knowledge

World Knowledge can be defined as the sum of what is known about the world. It includes both factual information and conceptual knowledge. Factual information is primarily acquired through reading modes, while conceptual knowledge is acquired through experiences and interactions with the world. The ability to effectively process text is essential for acquiring new knowledge and expanding one’s understanding of the world around them.

book stack

Differences Between Active and Passive Reading

Types of reading are typically distinguished by the level of reader engagement with the text. Passive reading, for example, is when a reader does read the words but comprehends almost nothing of what is written. This simply means that when a student reads aloud the words of the text, he or she does not know anything about the text. Active reading, on the other hand, is when readers interact with the text as they read, frequently stopping to think about what they have read and how it connects to prior knowledge. This type of reader engagement leads to greater comprehension and retention of information from the text. Hence, it is clear that to improve reading comprehension, students should be encouraged to adopt these reading techniques.

Types of Passive Reading:
• Rushing
• Forgetting
• Multitasking
• Reading when tired
• Distracted reading


Types of Active Reading:
• Skimming
• Re-reading
• Scanning
• Extensive Reading
• Intensive Reading
• Critical Reading
• Guided Reading

Top Four Active Reading Skills

1. Intensive Reading

Intensive reading is a type of reading that is done for the purpose of comprehension or interpretation. It is usually done with reading material that is challenging, such as novels or plays. Intensive reading requires active involvement from the reader, who must carefully read and analyze the text. This type of reading habit is often used in academic settings, as it can help students to understand and interpret complex texts.

In contrast to extensive reading, which is done for the purpose of pleasure or fluency, intensive reading is focused on understanding the meaning of the text. As a result, it can be a slower and more difficult process. However, it can also be very rewarding, as it can deepen one’s understanding of the text and provide a richer reading experience.

2. Extensive Reading

Extensive reading is a reading style that allows readers to practice their skills and improve their fluency. It involves reading large amounts of text, usually for pleasure, and can be done both inside and outside of the classroom. Extensive reading can be used to build vocabulary, improve comprehension, and develop a love of reading. Especially if you have a shallow understanding of your favourite books and want to acquire an excellent attention span.

It is important to select texts that are appropriate for the reader’s level, as this will ensure that they are able to understand and enjoy the material. There are many different types of texts available for extensive reading, including books, magazines, newspapers, and online articles. By engaging in extensive reading on a regular basis, readers can improve their language skills and become more confident in their ability to read English.

3. Skimming

Reading is not a one-size-fits-all activity. Depending on the purpose for reading, different types of reading techniques may be more appropriate. For instance, if you are trying to get a general understanding of a text, skimming may be the best strategy. Skimming techniques allow you to quickly pick up the main idea of a text without getting bogged down in the details. These types of reading can often be used when time is limited and you only need a general understanding of the material. However, it is important to note that skimming should not be used when trying to learn new information or remember complex details. For these purposes, slow, careful reading is necessary in order to fully process and understand the text.

4. Scanning

Scanning is a type of rapid reading where you look for specific information. This could be a word, phrase, or number. When you scan, you move your eyes quickly across a text, looking for the information you need. Scanning is often used when you only need to find a small amount of information, such as a name or a date. It is also useful for skimming large amounts of text to get an overview of the content. There are different types of scanning: horizontal, vertical, and zigzag. Horizontal scanning involves moving your eyes from left to right across a line of text. Vertical scanning means moving your eyes down the page, line by line. Zigzag scanning is a mixture of both horizontal and vertical scanning, and involve moving your eyes in a zigzag pattern across the page.

holding a stack of books

5 Types of Reading Comprehension Questions

In order to build critical reading skills, readers often ask themselves questions.These questions can be classified into five different types:

1. Main idea questions

The main idea question in reading comprehension requires the reader to identify the central idea of the text. The answer to this type of question will typically be found in the opening or closing paragraph of the text. Main idea questions can be tricky, as they often require the reader to make inferences based on the information presented in the text. However, by carefully considering the title, topic sentence, and key details of the passage, readers should be able to identify the main idea. 

2. Supporting detail questions

In reading comprehension, supporting detail questions are those that ask about specific information in the text. These questions can come in various forms, but they all require the reader to go back to the text to find the answer. The most common types of supporting detail questions are who, what, when, where, and why questions. For example, a who question might ask “Who is the protagonist of the story?” A what question might ask “What does the protagonist do in the story?” A when question might ask “When does the protagonist do this?” And so on. To answer these questions, readers need to be able to quickly identify the relevant information in the text and understand how it relates to the question.

3. Vocabulary questions

There are three types of reading: skimming, scanning, and comprehensive reading. Skimming is used when you want to quickly read a text to get the main idea or gist. Scanning is used when you are looking for specific information in a text, such as a name or a date. Comprehensive reading is used when you want to understand all the details in a text. Vocabulary questions in reading comprehension tests usually fall into one of these three categories. To answer skimming questions, you need to be able to identify the main idea of the passage. To answer scanning questions, you need to be able to find specific information in the passage quickly. To answer comprehensive questions, you need to have a good understanding of the vocabulary used in the passage.

4. Inference questions

Inferential questions require readers to draw conclusions based on their understanding of the text. A good inferential question might be, “Why did the protagonist make that choice?” Finally, evaluative questions ask readers to form judgments about the text. These questions might ask readers to consider the author’s point of view or to assess the quality of the writing. Regardless of the type of question, all reading comprehension questions should be designed to promote a deep understanding of the text. When used correctly, inference questions can be an excellent way to encourage readers to think critically about what they are reading.

5. Author’s purpose questions

There are three main types of reading comprehension questions: factual, inferential, and evaluative. Factual questions require readers to remember specific details from the text. Inferential questions require intensive reading practices to make connections between various pieces of information in the text. Evaluative questions require readers to form opinions about the author’s arguments or choices. Author’s purpose questions typically fall into one of these three categories. For example, a question about the author’s purpose in writing a particular passage might be a factual question, requiring exploratory reading to remember what the author said in the passage. Alternatively, it could be an inferential question, requiring readers to make inferences about the author’s intentions based on their understanding of the text as a whole.

Common Reading Problems

If you have encountered any of the following reading problems, the reading methods discussed above will help you incorporate helpful reading tasks into your daily life.

  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty understanding what they read
  • Skimming instead of reading carefully
  • Not taking time to reflect on or process what they read
  • Not knowing how to find specific information in a text
  • Reliance on visual cues instead of understanding the meaning of the words
  • Difficulty making inferences
  • Difficulty recognizing the author’s point of view or purpose
  • Struggling to connect what they read to their own experiences or prior knowledge


The critical reading exercises described in this article will help improve your reading skills and comprehension. By understanding the different types of reading and how to apply them to different materials, you will be better able to obtain the information you need from a text. In addition, by using active reading strategies such as monitoring your comprehension and taking breaks, you can ensure that you are understanding and retaining what you read. By utilizing these methods, you can become a more proficient reader and improve your overall academic performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the purposes of reading?

Reading has many purposes, from helping us learn about the world around us to providing entertainment. However, one of the most important reasons to read is for personal growth.

What is meant by reading skills?

When we talk about reading skills, we are referring to the ability to read and understand written text. This is a complex process that involves several different abilities, including the ability to identify individual words, to comprehend the meaning of those words, and to draw inferences from the text.

What are the 6 basic reading skills?

There are six basic reading skills that all readers need to master in order to be successful. These skills include phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking. Each of these skills is important in its own right, and part of becoming a better reader is learning how to effectively use all of them.

What are the types of reading?

There are four main types of reading: pleasure, work-related, academic, and research. Each one serves a different purpose and requires a different level of focus and engagement.

What kind of reading makes you smarter?

Different people have different preferences, and what works for one person might not work for another. However, there are some generalities that can be made about what kind of reading makes you smarter. First, reading that requires you to think critically will help to improve your analytical skills. Second, reading that is challenging and outside of your comfort zone will help to expand your horizons. Finally, reading that is rich in vocabulary and complex sentence structure will help to improve your linguistic skills.

How do strong reading skills benefit English language learners?

Students who are able to read well are more likely to succeed in classes like history and science, where they are required to understand and interpret complex texts. In addition, strong reading skills can help ELLs to develop a better understanding of the English language. By exposure to a variety of vocabulary words and sentence structures, ELLs can gradually expand their knowledge of the language.

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Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald has contributed articles LillyPad.ai since 2020. As their Blog Lead, she specialises in informative pieces on culture, education, and language learning

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