How to Fix COVID’s Reading Loss at Home

New data is revealing the impact COVID has had on our students and their reading. Virtual learning has worked for some but has been devastating for others. Data from the North Carolina Read to Achieve Program shows that “58.2% of third-grade students scored a Level I, the lowest rating on the exam. That compares to 49.8% last school year. Combining Level 1 and Level 2, 75.4% of third-grade students were not reading at a proficient level on the exam. That compares to 73.6% last school year.” (Keung Hui). This high number of students not reading at their grade-level is already alarming but knowing that it is getting worse is disheartening.

              Schools are planning on reopening soon; however, it is going to take a lot of time to get back to the way things were before the pandemic. Students will need to work on their skills at home to get back on track.

How to Improve at Home

  • The most important first step is to know your student’s current skill level. Many standardized tests give students a Lexile Measure. This measure is an amazing tool!

  • Once you know the level at which your student is reading, it is important to ensure they are reading material at their Lexile Measure. If your student’s Lexile Measure is a 600L that means that if they were to read a book that has about that same measure, they will understand about 75% of the words given in that book. This is especially important because we want to make sure our students are challenging themselves without reading something too complex.

    Here is a LINK to an in-depth breakdown of how the Lexile Measure works.

  • It is not enough to simply have your student read books at their Lexile Measure. It is also important to have your student talk with you about what they are reading. The goal should not be to have your student answer textbook style questions like, “What was the setting?” The goal should be to simply have a conversation about the book. The following is a list of great questions to ask your student after they read:

    What did you like?

    What did you not like?

    Who is your favorite character and why?

    Who is your least favorite character and why?

    Would you want to change anything about what you read?

    What do you think would happen if ________ was the main character?

    The goal for these questions is to help your student actively think and recall aspects of what they read. The more they talk about it the more they will enjoy it.

  • Another fantastic way to have your student get engaged with their book is to write about it. Just like with the verbal questions, the goal is to engage your student in what they are reading. Allowing your student to think creatively about what they are reading will help them enjoy it more as well as think about it more complexly. Here are some writing prompts you could use to engage your student after they read:

    Rewrite the beginning of the story but write it from the perspective of _______.

    Write about what you think would happen if the story were set on a frozen mountain instead of a sunny beach.

    Write what you think is going to happen in the next chapter.

    Just like with the verbal questions, these written prompts are a way to engage their recall while allowing them to analyze what they have read. The overall goal for reading should be to think critically about what has already happened, think critically about what may happen, form unique opinions, and effectively communicate those opinions.


Here are some amazing resources to help your student become a better reader.

This website is a free resource parents can use to find material to read based off their student’s Lexile Measure, grade-level, and interest. It also gives you the opportunity to generate previously created questions based on the readings. The questions are textbook-style, so you will want to add additional questions to engage your student’s critical thinking.

This website allows you to search from an immense number of books by their Lexile Measure. It also include a synopsis about the books. I would encourage you to have your student pick out their books with you. This way, they are already engaged in what they will read.

Ivy Reads is a program created specifically to combat the issues we are currently seeing in students falling behind on their reading and critical thinking. The program offers a free assessment that gauges the student’s vocabulary, grammar, and reading comprehension. The assessment also includes a Lexile Measure. Ivy Reads help students become better readers, writers, and thinkers by working on skills they need to succeed in school and in life while also helping them learn to communicate more effectively during weekly instructor-led discussions.