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Pre-reading Knowledge Activation: An Evidence Based Strategy

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Hi friends!

Let's chat all about why pre-reading activities play an important role and why you should strongly consider incorporating them into your therapy sessions!

Evidence-Based strategy

Pre-reading activities, also known as pre-story knowledge activation in the literacy-based therapy framework, are activities that are completed before reading a story.

A square image with a wooden background and text that says "Evidence Based Strategy". A blue book cover titled Contextualized Language Intervention by Teresa A. Ukrainetz, PhD. Speechie Adventures logo in the bottom right-hand corner.

It is an evidence-based strategy that supports students in incorporating new knowledge into an existing schema (Ukrainetz, 2006).

Put another way, it helps students connect new information with what they already know, making it more meaningful and easier to understand.

Diversity Considerations

Literacy-based intervention allows us to account for many of the cultural, linguistic and socio-economic differences and pre-reading activities lay a strong foundation for narrative abilities to blossom (Prath, 2017).

We often choose stories as the medium to support comprehension and target a wide variety of receptive and expressive language skills. When elements of a story (e.g. vocabulary, story structure, character's actions, setting, etc.) are unfamiliar to a student due to cultural, linguistic, geographical, and socio-economic differences it can impact their ability to

  • Attend to the story

  • Comprehend the story

  • Engaging in meaningful activities aimed at building their receptive and expressive language skills

Pre-reading activities help account for a student's differences and provide a more equitable foundation for learning and success!

How Pre-reading Activities Support Students

Here are four ways pre-reading activities can support students:

1. Vocabulary Enrichment:

Students may have a limited vocabulary or different set of vocabulary due to a wide array of reasons (e.g. language impairment, lack of exposure, from a different part of the world, etc.). Pre-reading activities that introduce and explain new words can help build a student's vocabulary and support their understanding of text.

2. Activates Background Knowledge:

Many pre-reading activities focus on activating prior knowledge and building connections between students' experiences and the content of the reading material. For students with limited access to resources and experiences, these activities provide essential background information that support comprehension.

3. Increases Engagement and Motivation:

Pre-reading activities can spark curiosity and interest in the reading material, making it more engaging and motivating for students who might otherwise feel disconnected from the content.

4. Supports Critical Thinking and Language Skills:

Many pre-reading activities show and support students with how to think critically, make predictions, ask questions, and analyze information.

No Prep Pre-reading Activities

The types of pre-reading activities pictured above can be found in my Boom Cards book companions as well as my printable book companions! They are fun and engaging, print and go activities that can be used to support a variety of students during your therapy sessions!

Want a free sample activity? Check out these word clouds that are available for all of my email subscribers ⬇️

I hope this information has been helpful and supports you in your decision to incorporate pre-reading activities into your therapy sessions! If you're looking for pre-reading activity ideas, check out this blog post.

Happy reading! 💛

Three grey mountains with some white snow on to. A small heart in a speech bubble. Four boot prints underneath the mountain. The name Sarah in pink, blue, peach, green, and purple colors.


Prath, S. (2017). Before the Book: pre-reading activities to build literacy foundations. ASHA Leader Live. Link.

Ukrainetz, T. A. (2006). Contextualized Language Intervention: Scaffolding Prek-12 Literacy Achievement (1st ed.). Pro Ed.

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