What Is Reading Comprehension and Why Is It Important

What Is Reading Comprehension

While most of us tend to focus mostly on how much we read, there are other key aspects of this immensely beneficial activity that are equally, if not even more important. Considering how limited our free time is nowadays, it’s easy to understand why we tend to look at reading more in terms of the number of books we manage to read in a year than keeping our focus on what we actually understand and retain from what we read. 

So, what is reading comprehension and why is it important? Here at Basmo, we understood a long time ago how all aspects of reading work together to create an amazing experience. That is why we want you to be aware of everything that is truly important in terms of your reading habits and the overall experience. Here’s everything you should know about reading comprehension and how you can improve it. 

What is reading comprehension? 

The reading comprehension definition states that this concept refers to a reader’s ability to understand and extract meaning from written text. 

To better understand the reading comprehension meaning, we need to take into account two different, interconnected components of reading:

  1. Word reading: the process of actually looking at the written text, decoding the symbols, and identifying and understanding words. 
  2. Language comprehension: the ability to understand what words and sentences mean. 

Let’s put things in perspective. Reading and comprehending are two different processes. In a regular reading session, the first thing you do is to actually decode the text. You look at the symbols and use your knowledge to understand how they create words, and how those words create sentences. This is the decoding stage. 

As you decode the text, your brain processes the information and starts interpreting it, extracting meaning from the sentences. Understanding what the words mean when placed together and understanding the concepts or actions that are being described is the actual reading comprehension stage.

When you finish a reading session and think back to what you read, your brain accesses the memories you created about the content. This is what we usually refer to as information retention, what you actually take away from your reading. Understanding the true meaning of comprehension means looking at these stages both as separate actions and as interconnected abilities.

Leaving aside any pompous words, different stages, and all the complicated concepts, the best way to actually explain as clearly and logically as possible what comprehension means is to see the relationship between decoding and retention. When you truly understand a text or a concept, you will be able to explain it in your own words rather than by reciting what you remember word for word. 

In a nutshell, true reading comprehension is the ability to use the information you acquired and express it with your own words. 

What is the purpose of reading comprehension?

To put it simply, the goal of comprehensive reading is to decode text, extract meaning from it, and use any priorly acquired information to create connections. This leads to a deeper understanding of the content and its meaning. This is the process that adds value to reading, what makes it an amazingly efficient learning tool, and what differentiates an experienced reader from a low-level one. Comprehension turns words on a page into thoughts, concepts, and ideas. 

Every reader should aim to achieve the best possible comprehension level. That is because comprehension embodies every single aspect of reading that makes it one of the most valuable ways for you to spend your time. 

What is the importance of reading comprehension?

As you can imagine, comprehension is of utmost importance when it comes to reading. Improving your level of reading comprehension can have a huge series of relevant benefits for you. These are the most important benefits of good reading comprehension and why you should always try and improve it.

1. Academic performance and career development

We use reading a lot more than we realize. While most of us think of reading as relaxing with a book after a long day, you are reading this article. When you stop reading this, you might receive an email from work. Or somebody will send you a text. Or you’ll watch a foreign movie with subtitles.  

Reading plays a huge role in our education. Despite the technical developments of the last decades, most of the learning is still done through reading all throughout the school years. While success in school is clearly important for children and teenagers, adults can benefit from better comprehension levels as well.

Regardless of age, learning through reading is an important part of our lives. Whether you’re starting college in your thirties or you’re simply learning new skills in your career, reading comprehension can make or break your chances of success. Reading work emails or other job-related documentation plays a huge role in your overall performance. Better reading comprehension gives you better chances of advancing in your career.

2. Developing critical thinking and analytical skills

The more you read, the more you understand. As you gain more knowledge and as you understand new ideas, concepts, or ways of thinking, the easier it will become for you to come up with your own. Good comprehension improves your thinking skills and improves your ability to think critically and analytically.

While reading in itself has a positive impact on our thinking skills in general, improving reading comprehension is followed by a snowball effect. As you read more and as you improve your levels of comprehension, the more you will want to learn and the easier it will become.

3. Personal growth

Whether you read to improve your general knowledge, to enrich yourself spiritually, or to learn a new skill, your experience is going to be massively improved by a high level of reading comprehension. 

Reading and actually understanding the content to a deep level is going to help you develop your personality and skills. You will constantly acquire new information that is going to be useful to you. Personal growth is relatively hard to achieve in general, as it requires us to step outside of our comfort zone more often than we might want, but reading comprehension can make it a lot quicker and smoother. 

4. Better problem-solving abilities

The more you read, the more you learn. The better you understand what you read, the quicker and more meaningfully you absorb information. Comprehending what you read makes the concepts and ideas you read about usable. By using a mix of your priorly acquired information, new ideas you read about and comprehend, and your imagination, you can develop better problem-solving skills that are undeniably important nowadays.

By enriching your knowledge with new concepts and allowing the information you learn to inspire your upcoming decisions and thought processes, you are quite likely to come up with more creative solutions to everyday problems. In a way, a good level of reading comprehension can make you think outside the box more often, easily, and efficiently.

5. Enriched vocabulary

Knowledge promotes further knowledge. Improving your vocabulary and reading comprehension go hand in hand. As you read and learn new words, you will understand new texts more easily in the future. Again, there is a snowball effect that can describe the relationship between vocabulary and comprehension. 

A good vocabulary boosts your reading comprehension, and a good reading comprehension keeps you interested in reading enough for you to keep learning and experimenting with new words and formats.

6. Improved general knowledge

Needless to say, reading improves your general knowledge. The information you possess at this moment is in great part originating in the content you consumed throughout your life up until this point. 

There are few better solutions than reading when it comes to learning new things or exploring different topics and concepts. A good level of reading comprehension will always mean that your information will constantly be interconnected.

The new things you learn will be placed in the matrix of knowledge you already possess. Without good reading comprehension, you won’t be able to process information properly and efficiently enough to be able to place it in a comprehensive relationship with the things you already know.

What is vital to reading comprehension?

As it’s probably quite obvious already, reading comprehension is a complex process that involves a wide series of internal mechanisms. There are many factors that can influence a person’s level of comprehension and missing out on any of them can have a hugely negative impact on the overall experience and efficiency of your reading sessions. 

Some of the most important factors to consider:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Background knowledge
  • Prior experience
  • Metacognition
  • Ability to focus and concentrate

As you can see, reading comprehension is quite a handful to manage. There is a lot that influences your ability to understand what you are reading. On top of the things listed above, there are some pretty important behavioral aspects of your habits that are vital to comprehension.

For example, in order to constantly improve your levels of comprehension, you need to know why you are doing it and what drives you forward. You need good motivation. You will require good reading habits and ways to keep reading more and more. That way, the snowball effect becomes a value.

How to improve comprehension levels with Basmo

What is comprehensive reading without good reading habits? Nothing but a waste of skill. Luckily, with Basmo, you can build healthy reading habits and improve your reading comprehension at the same time. Here’s how our reading tracking app can help.

Scheduling. Maybe one of the most important things to consider when it comes to your reading habits is how organized you really are. Yes, you don’t necessarily need a schedule to do some recreational reading, but when it comes to taking things seriously and looking to improve reading comprehension, you need a different approach. 

With Basmo, you can easily schedule several reading sessions each week. Our scheduling feature allows you to select the exact days of the week and different times of day for each reading session you want to enjoy and even reminds you of them through notifications.

Reading list. While all books have their own value and provide us with different benefits, those that can truly impact our reading comprehension levels are the ones that will challenge us. 

Our app allows you to create as many different reading lists as you please, which means you can always keep your recreational reading separate from serious reading. The lists are easy to create and manage.

Note-taking. Reading, when done with a clear purpose, goes well with diligent note-taking. That is why Basmo comes with a note-taking feature that will allow you to constantly jot down your thoughts, new words you’re learning, and interesting concepts you’re reading about. The notes can be edited and formatted however you see fit, which means they will always make perfect sense to you.

Final thoughts

So, what is reading comprehension and why is it important? Well, reading comprehension is what keeps us from looking at the written text the same way we would look at a painting. It helps us extract value, give meaning, and internalize the information we read. And its importance cannot be underestimated. Reading without understanding has little to no value. Basmo is the ultimate solution when it comes to reading more, better, and enhancing comprehension levels.

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