Reading Strategies for Middle and High School Students

Reading is one thing that many students struggle with. Some students get the underlying messages right away, while others need a little extra help. By the time students reach the high school level, we hope their reading levels have improved from their elementary years. While the majority of students' understanding have improved by the time they reach high school, there are still many students who get frustrated and struggle to read. Below, I will explain and discuss five important and helpful strategies that teachers can incorporate into their lessons, in any class that they teach.

1. Inference: As we read, we can use inference to further reading comprehension. When we infer while reading, we use knowledge that we already have and combine that with evidence from the text passages to come to conclusions with what we are reading. Students can formulate a question they may come upon while reading. In order to answer that question, they need to first determine what they already know about the subject in the text and then look for evidence in the text that supports their question. This information will help to lead them to their answer.
If you're in the neighborhood of trying something different, I have created these FREE Reading Strategies Bookmarks. I thought that these bookmarks would be a great addition to an existing novel study and an opportunity for students to try something new. Simply, give each student a bookmark during various sections of a novel. The bookmarks will give students an opportunity to look at specific elements in the section of the book they are reading one at a time so that students are not overwhelmed by having to examine more than one thing at a time. Students need a bookmark anyway, so this bookmark is a win-win for both students (as they will learn more reading strategies), teachers (as they can use these bookmarks over and over) and the book itself (no more corner-page creases!) 😄 

Tip: Consider printing the bookmarks on cardstock paper for more durability!

2. Questioning: While students are reading their text, they can start to create questions as they go along. They need to actively question what they are reading. Questions they have may be about the text, or about what the author means by a specific sentence or paragraph. By questioning, students are now thinking about what they are actually reading and can analyze passages more deeply and thoroughly. There comes a connection between the reader and the text, which also helps to increase comprehension. 

Due to the fact that many of my students were struggling to come up with effective questions during their lit circle discussion, I created this Reading Response Interactive Notebook Flipbook, as a guide to help their discussions. This flipbook provides students with sentence starters, before, during and after reading questions. It's a handy tool that can be referenced over and over.

3. Summarizing: One of the more difficult types of reading strategies is summarizing, mainly because students don't know what they are supposed to do. Some students end up providing too many details, while others not enough. By doing either, they may miss the main point and end up making no sense at all. With proper and frequent practice, summarizing will help students to write down the main ideas of a longer passage, help them to focus on key points and ideas that the author wants the reader to understand, and be able to use keywords and phrases properly.

4. Main Idea: Finding the main idea of a text is sometimes difficult for students to understand. Students need to first understand the focus of the text, then they can figure out what is so important about that focus. Combining the two creates the main idea of a passage. Students can do this with any text by finding supporting evidence in the text that describes the focus.

5. Synthesizing: Synthesizing is another difficult strategy for students, so frequent practice and modeling is essential for students. Synthesizing works as a reading strategy by breaking down all of the parts of a text into pieces, such as the characters, the plot, the climax, and the setting, while discussing or thinking about how they all come together to create one whole text. As the students read the text, they will begin to think differently about the text. They will learn more information about characters that will promote them think differently. Their opinions will change, as their comprehension increases.
I hope one, if not more of these strategies will work with your struggling
students. These strategies require repeated practice, so if students are able to continue to use them regularly, they will have a much better understanding of them, as well as the fact that they might be encouraged to read more and challenge themselves with different books!

Looking for more reading strategy ideas? Check out these ideas from the other Secondary English Coffee Shop bloggers!


  1. Shey, thank you so much for the reading strategies bookmarks! They are perfect! <3

    1. Thanks, Britt!! I appreciate that you took the time to comment. (Virtual high five!!)

  2. Lovin' the bookmarks AND the strategies. Thanks for another great post, Sparrow!

    1. Room 213 is that you!? I'm glad you liked the bookmarks!! Virtual high five to you too!!! :)

  3. The reading response reference book is brilliant. I bet your students love it!

  4. The bookmarks are very nice! They seem to be very modern and bright) I wish i could put my PhD thesis writing tutorial to such a bookmark. I would definitely get the highest grade!)

  5. Thank you so much for the great advice. There are so many wonderful activities to choose from.


  6. Reading Makes Your Child Smarter

    Reading is known to have numerous benefits. It increases your world knowledge, enhances your vocabulary, and works to improve your reading comprehension abilities.

    But did you know that reading can actually make you smarter?

    In fact, reading not only can make a child smarter, the very act of reading can even help to compensate for modest levels of cognitive ability in children by building their vocabulary and general knowledge! This is a finding reported by researchers Cunningham and Stanovich in a report titled "What Reading Does For the Mind".

    The simple fact here is that reading can make your child smarter, and that learning to read early on is directly linked to later success in life.

    1) Did you know that your child's vocabulary at 3 years old predicts his or her grade one reading success? [1]

    2) Did you know that vocabulary and reading ability in first grade strongly predicts grade 11 outcomes? [2]

    3) Did you know that your child's reading skill in grade 3 directly influences high school graduation? Studies have found that children who cannot read proficiently by grade 3 are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers! [3]

    >> Give your child the best possible head start. Teach your child to read today. Click here to learn how.

    But how do you teach a young child to read, and isn't that the job of the school and teachers?

    You can't be more wrong...

    With the right tools, knowledge, and techniques, teaching young children to read can be a simple and effective process. I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic reading program called Children Learning Reading, a super effective method for teaching children to read - even children as young as just 2 or 3 years old.

    The creators of this program have used it to teach their four children to read before age 3, and by reading, I mean real, phonetic reading.

    I can understand if you find that hard to believe... In fact, I had a difficult time believing it myself as well... that is, until I saw the videos they posted documenting the reading progress of the their children - not to mention all the videos other parents have sent in showcasing their children's reading progress after using the Children Learning Program. After learning more about their methods and techniques, it became clear how it's possible to teach young children to read effectively.

    It is truly within your ability to teach your child to read in a relatively short period of time spending just 10 to 15 minutes each day.

    >> Click here now to watch the videos and start teaching your child to read.

    1. Vocabulary Development and Instruction: A Prerequisite for School Learning
    Andrew Biemiller, University of Toronto

    2. Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later.
    Cunningham AE, Stanovich KE.

    3. Double Jeopardy How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
    Donald J. Hernandez, Hunter College and the Graduate Center,


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