Reading Intervention Activities That Really Work

Reading is a fundamental skill that is essential for academic and lifelong success. However, many children and adults struggle with reading due to various factors, including learning disabilities, lack of exposure to print, and inadequate instruction. Reading intervention programs aim to help struggling readers improve their reading skills and catch up with their peers. This article explores evidence-based reading intervention activities that have been shown to be effective in improving reading outcomes for struggling readers.

Phonics Instruction

Phonics instruction is an essential component of reading intervention programs. Phonics instruction involves teaching children sound-symbol correspondences, which enables them to decode words and read fluently. A systematic and explicit phonics program has been shown to be effective in improving reading outcomes for struggling readers. According to the National Reading Panel (2000), phonics instruction is an effective method for teaching reading, particularly for children who have difficulty with phonemic awareness or decoding.

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Reading comprehension is a complex process that involves the interaction of various cognitive skills, such as decoding, vocabulary, background knowledge, and reasoning. Many struggling readers have difficulty with comprehension, which can lead to frustration and disengagement from reading. Reading comprehension strategies aim to help struggling readers understand and remember what they read. Some effective reading comprehension strategies include:

1. Activating Prior Knowledge

Activating prior knowledge involves helping students make connections between what they already know and what they are reading. This strategy helps students build a mental scaffold for new information, which improves comprehension and retention. Teachers can use graphic organizers, such as concept maps or semantic webs, to help students organize their prior knowledge and make connections to the text.

2. Questioning

Questioning involves asking and answering questions about the text. This strategy helps students engage with the text and monitor their comprehension. Teachers can model how to ask questions before, during, and after reading and encourage students to ask their questions.

3. Summarizing

Summarizing involves identifying the main ideas and important details of the text and condensing them into a brief summary. This strategy helps students focus on the essential information and improves their understanding of the text. Teachers can model how to summarize the text and provide opportunities for students to practice summarizing.

Fluency Training

Fluency refers to the ability to read accurately, smoothly, and with expression. Fluent readers are better able to comprehend what they read and enjoy reading. Fluency training aims to improve reading speed, accuracy, and prosody (i.e., expression). Some effective fluency training strategies include:

1. Repeated Reading

Repeated reading involves reading a passage several times until the reader can read it fluently. This strategy helps students build automaticity in decoding and improves reading speed and accuracy. Teachers can provide feedback and encouragement to help students improve their fluency.

2. Choral Reading

Choral reading involves reading a text together with the teacher or other students. This strategy helps students improve their prosody and develop a sense of rhythm and pacing in their reading.

3. Partner Reading

Partner reading involves reading a text with a peer or a more fluent reader. This strategy provides students with an opportunity to practice their fluency in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.

Technology-Based Interventions

Technology has the potential to enhance reading intervention programs by providing engaging and interactive activities that cater to different learning styles and preferences. Some effective technology-based interventions include:

1. Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI)

CAI programs provide students with individualized instruction and feedback on various reading skills, such as phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension. These programs can be tailored to the student’s specific needs and provide immediate feedback on their progress. A meta-analysis of 42 studies found that CAI programs are effective in improving reading outcomes, particularly for struggling readers (Cheung & Slavin, 2013).

2. Digital Reading Platforms

Digital reading platforms, such as e-books and online reading programs, provide students with access to a wide range of texts and multimedia resources. These platforms can enhance comprehension by providing interactive features, such as animations, videos, and audio recordings. A study by Molenda, Reidel, and Smith (2017) found that digital reading platforms improved reading comprehension and motivation for struggling readers.

Multicomponent Interventions

Multicomponent interventions combine several evidence-based strategies into a comprehensive and personalized program for struggling readers. These interventions typically involve a combination of phonics instruction, reading comprehension strategies, fluency training, and technology-based activities. A meta-analysis of 39 studies found that multicomponent interventions are more effective than single-component interventions in improving reading outcomes for struggling readers (Elbaum, Vaughn, Hughes, & Moody, 2000).

Additional Resources and Considerations

In addition to evidence-based reading interventions, there are several other resources and considerations that can support struggling readers.

Parental Involvement

Parental involvement can have a significant impact on a child’s reading success. Parents can support their child’s reading development by reading with them regularly, providing access to books and digital resources, and monitoring their child’s progress. When parents are involved in their child’s reading education, the child is more likely to develop a love of reading and improve their reading skills (National Reading Panel, 2000).

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software and audiobooks, can support struggling readers by providing alternative ways to access text. These technologies can help struggling readers improve their reading fluency and comprehension by providing auditory support. When used in combination with evidence-based reading interventions, assistive technology can be an effective tool for improving reading outcomes (National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, n.d.).

Cultural Considerations

Cultural considerations are important when developing and implementing reading interventions for struggling readers. Teachers and intervention specialists should be aware of cultural differences in language, reading practices, and literacy experiences. By understanding the cultural background and needs of the student, teachers can tailor the interventions to be culturally responsive and relevant (Gay, 2010).


Reading interventions that are evidence-based and tailored to the specific needs of struggling readers can significantly improve reading outcomes. Phonics instruction, reading comprehension strategies, fluency training, technology-based interventions, and multicomponent interventions are all effective strategies for supporting struggling readers. Parental involvement, assistive technology, and cultural considerations can also play a critical role in supporting struggling readers. By using these resources and strategies, educators and intervention specialists can help struggling readers develop the skills and confidence needed to become proficient readers.

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