Our Favorite Reading Comprehension Strategy – SWBS

Our Favorite Reading Comprehension Strategy – SWBS


Is your child having difficulties with reading comprehension?  Need a reading comprehension strategy that helps your child understand what they have just read?


Well, try using the SWBS reading comprehension strategy. It is our favorite reading comprehension strategy.


Somebody – Wanted – But – So


The SWBS is a fantastic and easy to implement reading comprehension strategy that helps children understand plot elements such as conflicts and resolutions.  It also allows the child to summarize the elements of a story and develop the summary into a retelling of the story.  It can be used as a “during reading” or “after reading” strategy.  I also like to use it as a quick reading comprehension assessment with my students.


The SWBS reading comprehension strategy is basically a summarizing technique. Summarization requires a student to pull out the main idea, focus on key details, use key words and phrases, and break down the larger ideas.  Summarizing is an extremely difficult task for most students.  Many children require instruction and practice in summarizing before they are able to produce good oral and written summaries of text.  The SWBST strategy helps children first orally summarize what they have read and then put the summary down onto paper into paragraph form.  It works with both fiction and nonfiction text. So here is how it goes:


Somebody – Wanted – But – So





1.  Have your child read a story (independently or with help is fine)

2.  Write down the following:







3.  Fill in the sentences together with your child relating to the story that they just read.  Somebody relates to the character of the story.  Wants is the goal or motivation that the character exhibits.  But refers to the conflict in the story.  So is the resolution of the conflict.  Do it first orally then in written form.


4.  Have your child write out the sentences in a paragraph form.  Younger students can add just one sentence while older students can add detail with 1-3 sentences.


It is AWESOME – right?  The key to getting your child to memorize this summary form is through repetition.  Doing it just one time won’t work.  Doing it all year long – it will “stick.”  Good Luck and let me know how it goes…


boy reading


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Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder and Director of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County.  Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist.   Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications.  You can reach her by email at karina@pridelearningcenter.com or visit the PRIDE Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com