Students developing their reading skills with help of teacherTypes of Reading Skills

Reading skills come in many forms, each playing a crucial role in our ability to process and understand written information. Here are some key types:

Foundational Reading Skills:

  • Decoding: Recognizing and sounding out individual letters and words. This is the first step in reading development, allowing children to connect written symbols with their spoken counterparts.
  • Phonics: Understanding the relationship between sounds and letters. This helps readers decode new words and improve fluency.
  • Vocabulary: Knowing the meaning of words. A strong vocabulary is essential for understanding the content of texts.
  • Fluency: Reading smoothly and accurately at a comfortable pace. Fluent readers can focus on comprehension rather than decoding each word.
  • Sentence Construction & Cohesion: Understanding how sentences are formed and how they connect to create meaning. This is crucial for grasping the overall structure and logic of a text.


  • Decoding: A young child sounds “c-a-t” and says “cat.”
  • Phonics: Recognizing that the letter “o” in “go” makes the same sound as the letter “oa” in “boat.”
  • Vocabulary: Understanding that the word “happy” describes someone smiling and laughing.
  • Fluency: A student reading out loud smoothly and without stumbling over words.
  • Sentence Construction & Cohesion: Recognizing that the sentence “The dog chased the ball” is about a dog and a ball, and they are connected by the action of chasing.

Comprehension Reading Skills:

  • Literal Comprehension: Understanding the basic meaning of the text, including facts, events, and characters.
  • Inferential Comprehension: Drawing conclusions and making inferences based on the information presented in the text.
  • Critical Thinking: Evaluating the information presented in the text, questioning its validity, and considering different perspectives.
  • Analysis: Breaking down the text into its parts and understanding how they work together to create meaning.
  • Synthesis: Combining information from different sources to create a new understanding.


  • Literal Comprehension: Reading a news article about a fire and understanding that a building burned down.
  • Inferential Comprehension: Reading a story about a character hiding something and inferring that they are probably feeling scared or guilty.
  • Critical Thinking: Watching a commercial and questioning whether the claims made about the product are true.
  • Analysis: Breaking down a poem into its different stanzas and lines to understand the poet’s message.
  • Synthesis: Reading two articles about the same topic and comparing and contrasting their perspectives.

Four Main Reading Techniques:

  • Skimming: Quickly reading through a text to get a general idea of its content. This is useful for previewing a text or finding specific information.
  • Scanning: Quickly searching a text for specific information. This is useful for finding names, dates, or other facts.
  • Intensive Reading: Reading a text carefully and thoroughly to understand its full meaning. This is used for studying or analyzing complex texts.
  • Extensive Reading: Reading a variety of texts for pleasure and enjoyment. This helps to develop vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension skills.


  • Skimming: Browsing a magazine to find an article about animals.
  • Scanning: Looking through a phone book to find a specific person’s phone number.
  • Intensive Reading: Highlighting key points in a textbook chapter to prepare for an exam.
  • Extensive Reading: Getting lost in a good book for hours!

Additional 4 Types of Reading Skills:

  • Background Knowledge: Bringing prior knowledge and experience to the reading process can help to make connections and deepen understanding.
  • Motivation and Engagement: Being interested in the topic of a text can make it more enjoyable and easier to understand.
  • Metacognition: Thinking about your own thinking and learning processes as you read. This can help you to identify areas of difficulty and develop strategies for improvement.
  • Inference: Drawing conclusions based on available clues within the text.
  • Note-taking: Summarizing key points and organizing information for future reference.


  • Background Knowledge: Having visited a zoo before reading a story about a lion, makes it easier to imagine the setting and characters.
  • Motivation and Engagement: Being curious about outer space and excited to read a book about astronauts.
  • Metacognition: Recognizing that you’re having trouble understanding a technical term and looking it up in a dictionary.

Remember, these types of reading skills are not mutually exclusive and often work together to create a complete understanding of a text. The specific skills required will vary depending on the type of text, the reader’s purpose, and their experience level.

FAQs about Types of Reading Skills:

1. What are the main categories of reading skills?

There are two main categories:
Foundational skills: These are the basic building blocks of reading, like decoding, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and sentence construction. They lay the groundwork for comprehension.
Comprehension skills: These involve understanding the meaning of a text, including literal comprehension, inferential comprehension, critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis.

2. What are some examples of different reading skills in action?

Decoding: A child sounding out “c-a-t” to form the word “cat.”
Fluency: Reading a passage aloud smoothly and accurately.
Literal comprehension: Identifying the main characters and events in a story.
Inferential comprehension: Understanding the author’s message or theme based on clues in the text.
Critical thinking: Evaluating the validity of arguments presented in a non-fiction text.

3. What are some different reading techniques?

Skimming: Quickly browsing a text to get a general idea of its content.
Scanning: Searching for specific information within a text.
Intensive reading: Reading a text carefully and thoroughly to understand its full meaning.
Extensive reading: Reading a variety of texts for pleasure and enjoyment.

4. How can I improve my reading skills?

Practice regularly: Read different types of texts, like books, articles, and magazines.
Use reading strategies: Try different techniques like skimming, scanning, and intensive reading.
Expand your vocabulary: Learn new words and use them in your writing and speaking.
Analyze what you read: Think about the main ideas, themes, and author’s purpose.
Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something.
Seek help: If you’re struggling, talk to a teacher, librarian, or tutor.

5. Are there different types of reading skills for different subjects?

Yes, different subjects often require different reading skills. For example, reading a scientific article requires different skills than reading a novel.
Science: Identifying key facts, analyzing data, and understanding technical terms.
Literature: Interpreting characters, analyzing style, recognizing literary devices.
History: Evaluating sources, concluding, and understanding different perspectives.

By Waqas Sharif

Mr. Waqas Sharif is an English Language Teaching (ELT) Professional, Trainer, and Course Instructor at a Public Sector Institute. He has more than ten years of Eng Language Teaching experience at the Graduate and Postgraduate level. His main interest is found in facilitating his students globally He wishes them to develop academic skills like Reading, Writing, and Communication mastery along with Basics of Functional Grammar, English Language, and Linguistics.

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