An Important Component for Comprehension

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one mind to another mind.
James Russell Lowell

Background knowledge is simply What do I know or need to know that will help me understand what I just read. It also includes any life experiences that would clarify a passage.

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Children who comprehend what is being read to them are using prior knowledge to help them understand new concepts. A broad knowledge base is necessary as a child's reading level increases.

Knowing something about the past, present, and future helps the child to comprehend what she is reading.

When a child comprehends what is being read, whether by someone else or themselves, they get excited about reading. In fact, once they start, it is hard to stop them from reading anytime.

Read Courtney's Story


There are four areas of knowledge that are important to build in order to be a good reader. Click on any of the titles below to see more.

To see any of the four areas of background knowledge listed above, you will need to request a password.  


Some children pick up on all of these areas of knowledge without much effort. Some students just naturally take in any and all information. These are usually the kids that had a language rich environment from birth.

The purpose of background information is so that the reader will comprehend what the author is trying to convey. A child needs to be given enough background information so that when she reads she will comprehend the written word.

Gaining background knowledge in the content areas such as History, Science, Music and Social Studies is critical for the student. If the student doesn't know about the Civil War, then she will not comprehend why President Lincoln was shot.

Having knowledge in the four areas mentioned will allow the student to make inferences and predictions. This is just one step of a reading strategy. Click here for other reading comprehension strategies.

Reading motivation starts with giving a child enough background information so she becomes excited to want to read the book, article or passage.

If you need help in this area, contact me for a FREE CONSULTATION ($40 value).


Parents are the first providers of background knowledge. Remember when your little one asked "Why?" Every time she got an answer, she was building her knowledge base. Whatever she heard, she categorized it and filed it away.

Most children's comprehension level is usually 3-4 grades above their reading level. Reading books above a child's reading level will help them build their knowledge foundation.

To see some great books for toddlers click here.

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