Chapter 2

Reading Is Strategic

Pages 22-30
photo: artotem

Reading in Bed

In Chapter 2, Harvey and Goudvis define strategic reading and strategic readers.
They say, "The term strategic reading refers to thinking about reading in ways that enhance learning and understanding." They also share the well-established finding that strategic readers, "have a plan of action that moves them towards their goal or purpose for reading." (p. 23)

The authors cite several studies that have shaped our understanding of the strategic nature of reading, of what strategic readers do and of the interventions that support the development of effective reading comprehension strategies. Here, we list three essential articles from among those cited in this chapter, provide a brief summary for each and when possible, provide a link to the published work. We also provide links to videos, and additional studies not cited in Strategies that Work, but that, in our view, are important for every teacher of reading to know.

Professional References to Extend Your Learning

Harvey and Goudvis note that when teachers model a repertoire of strategies, they equip students to respond flexibly to a wider range of comprehension demands. This method, called transactional strategy instruction, has been found to better support comprehension than teaching single strategies, or methods that rely on telling rather than active engagement with the strategies in context.

  • Pressley, M. (2002). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching (2nd Ed.) New York: Guilford Press. Preview available at:
    • Harvey and Goudvis refer broadly to this book, authored by the late, Dr. Michael Pressley, one of the most prolific and influential reading comprehension scholars to have ever lived (see below for links to Dr. Pressley's entire International Reading Association keynote from 2006). Chapter 6 is worth a read. Grounded in his observational research, with Ruth Wharton-McDonald and Jennifer Mistretta Hampston, Pressley describes expert primary-level teaching as balanced. "[...] the teachers in this study depicted their classrooms as integrating the attractive features of whole language with explicit skills instruction. For example, although they claimed to be immersing students in literacy experiences, they also reported extensive and expilcit teaching through modeling, explanation, and minilesson reexplanations, especially with respect to decoding and other skills." (p. 188) This research clearly showed that the most effective teachers of comprehension used a richly integrated approach. Reading materials connected to writing topics, and literacy instruction tied to content instruction (p. 193). Reading instruction was never solely informed by a single theoretical perspective and strategies were always modeled and integrated across a range of activities.
    • Use this chapter as a foundational text to orient your professional practice.

  • Duke, N. K. & Pearson, P. D. (2002). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. In A. E. Farstrup & S. J. Samuels (Eds.), What Research Has to Say About Reading Instruction (3rd ed pp. 205-242). Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Information available at
    • In this oft-cited chapter, Duke and Pearson note, "Teaching what we call collections or packages of comprehension strategies can help students become truly solid comprehenders of many kinds of text" (p. 207). They go on to outline five components of exemplary models of comprehension instruction which, in their view, connect and integrate the instruction of specific reading comprehension strategies with opportunities to read, write and discuss texts.
    • Exemplary instruction includes:
      • Explicit descriptions of the strategy and when and how it should be used.
      • Teacher and/or student modeling of the strategy in action.
      • Collaborative use of the strategy in action.
      • Guided practice using the strategy with gradual release of responsibility.
      • Independent use of the strategy.
    • Use this text to support your ongoing self-evaluation of your professional practice. How well do you integrate each of these elements in your reading comprehension instruction?

Additional Resources

Video Resources

Articles and Chapters

These references are not cited in Chapter 2, but offer important insights that complement and extend the work that is cited.

  • Afflerbach, P., Pearson, P.D., Paris, S.G. (2008). Clarifying differences between reading skills and reading strategies. The Reading Teacher, 61(5), 364-373. Retrieved from

    • Written by three giants in the field of reading comprehension, this article presents a framework for understanding the difference between skills and strategies. They suggest that reading strategies are "deliberate, goal-directed attempts to control and modify the reader's efforts to decode text, understand words,and construct meanings of text," (p. 368) whereas "reading skills are automatic actions that result in decoding and comprehension with speed, efficiency, and fluency and usually occur without awareness of the components or control involved" (p. 368). Strategies, then, are purposefully controlled; skills are the automatic processes that undergird strategic reading choices.

  • Taylor, B. M., Peterson, D. S., Pearson, P. D., & Rodriguez, M. C. (2002). Looking inside classrooms : Reflecting on the “how” as well as the “what” in effective reading instruction. The Reading Teacher, 56(3), 270-279.

  • Block, C. C. & Duffy, G. G. (2008). Research on teaching comprehension. In C. C. Block & S. R. Parris (Eds.) Comprehension instruction: Research-Based Best Practices (2nd ed.) New York: Guilford Press, pp. 19-37. Preview available at
    • This chapter provides an historical perspective on the research base that should be brought to bear on our strategy instruction practices. They note that only nine strategies first proposed in the reading comprehension literature have received sufficient empirical support to justify their implementation. These strategies (not coincidentally!) align with those promoted in Strategies that Work. They are:
      • Predicting
      • Monitoring
      • Questioning
      • Creating images in the mind/imaging/visualizing
      • Look-backs, re-reads and fix-it strategies
      • Inferring
      • Finding main ideas, summarizing and drawing conclusions
      • Evaluating
      • Synthesizing