Printable Comprehension Stories

The printable comprehension stories on this page has been influenced by my study of reading comprehension and its importance to literacy.

To fully understand comprehension requires much study and is beyond the scope of this website to tackle.

I will say though that comprehension and processing of information is a complex and thorny subject.

Before scrolling down to the printable comprehension stories please read the information and try the thought experiment.

The importance of context

When it comes to understanding written language, context is king. When context is absent or poorly presented students tend to struggle when reading an unfamiliar passage. They may be able to remember small bits of information, such as individual words and phrases, but be unable to link the information in a meaningful way.

What do I mean by that?

Well, without a proper context unfamiliar text can be very difficult, almost impossible, to comprehend fully. However, when context is added to difficult, printed material, comprehension and understanding tend to increase dramatically.

Thought experiment

Read the following passage and try to er...comprehend what it is about. The passage is an example of difficult text, almost devoid of context.

Important: The answer can be found at the end of the passage. However, to get the full effect of the experiment don't read the answer till you've attempted to 'figure out' the passage unaided.

What is this passage about?

It is the sequence of actions that is of primary importance here. First, it is essential that the stainless steel depression be filled with a suitable mix of differing fluid compounds.

This is important, because overuse of the more viscous of the two fluids can result in slippery and dangerous handling conditions; suffice to say that underuse of the viscous fluid can only lead to failure of the entire venture.

Next, immerse the sullied vessel in the solution. Time and temperature are of the essence here. A higher temperature leads to increased activity of the chemical properties inherent in both fluids.

A greater allotment of time allows for the chemicals in the more viscous of the fluids to permeate and moisten any hardened matter. This aids easier removal of said matter later.

Once the viscous fluid has done its work the scouring of the vessel should lead to a quick and easy purification. It goes without saying that any remaining matter should be easy to remove.

The vessel can then be laid on its reverse on a rack to ensure that any excess fluid, of both compounds, dehydrates sufficiently.

Scroll to the end of this section to the discover the title of the above passage.

Once armed with the title, read the passage again. I'll wait here until you get back...

Ok, welcome back.

You may have noticed that upon first reading the passage, and not yet in possession of the title, that the information and sequence of events were difficult to understand. And because it was difficult to understand committing the information to memory was quite tricky.

The above thought experiment is effective in removing context and the attendant background knowledge we bring to many daily tasks.

Background knowledge is essential to fully comprehend any language, oral and written.

By taking part in the experiment you may have gained some insight into what it may feel like to have a language disorder.

The passage may have been confusing and difficult to visualize. You may have noticed that the information was clothed in language that was formal and unfamiliar.

However, when the title is added the unfamiliar language becomes familiar. We can visualize the sequence and the actions much better.

And here's the thing. Children with language disorder may have the experience of not understanding the context every school day. Particularly when they're immersed in the decontextualized language that is common in the classroom.

A child with language disorder may not have access to important information because of an impoverished background knowledge about a particular subject, knowledge a child with typical language skills takes for granted.

The answer to the above passage is: 'Washing a Dirty Saucepan'

Printable Comprehension Stories

Original story: Brutus the Bull and the Shortcut, and comprehension questions

Recommended Age Range: 8-11

Right-click to download this PDF file here.

Return from Printable Comprehension Stories to Home Page