Mandy Woelfl

Reading to Learn



As children become fluent readers, comprehending exactly what they are reading is extremely important.  In assessing comprehension, being able to summarize a story can fully show that a student understands a story well enough to sum it up.  This lesson is designed to help children recognize the main idea of a particular story in order to summarize it into their own words by reading a story and summarizing it as they read and then by summarizing the story as a whole in the end.


-Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary. Published by Avon Books Inc. (1990).




  1. Explain to students what it means to summarize a story- Class, when we tell someone what a story is about, do we tell them every single detail of the story, or do we just say the main ideas?  That’s right! We just SUMMARIZE the story, or tell them in a few sentences what the story is about.
  2. Well, today we are going to start reading the story Muggie Maggie which is by Beverly Cleary.  We are going to read silently at our desks.  Remember that silent reading is reading to yourself, without talking out loud.  Since you are going to summarize what you have read today, you may want to jot down some main ideas as you read EACH PARAGRAPH, to help you remember the important events and characters in the story.  Remember to try and leave out trivial or unimportant information.  Here are four steps you can use to make sure you summarize correctly:
    1. Take out unimportant information
    2. Take out repeated information
    3. Substitute easy terms for listed items
    4. select a topic sentence or make up one if you cannot find one or if you like one you made up better.

Write these on the board for the students to see and use as they read.

  1. Tell the children to read the next paragraph and then summarize it on their own paper.  “OK, NOW I WANT YOU TO READ THE NEXT PARAGRAPH AND SUMMARIZE IT ON YOUR OWN PAPER AND THEN TURN IT IN TO ME.  If you would like, you can use the following rubric/checklist for the first summarizations and then again for the last summarization:


Redundant Information was taken out                   Yes            No

Trivial Information was taken out                               Yes            No

There are only main points in the summary            Yes            No



Walk around the room as they are writing their summaries, and read them to see if they are truly understanding the story as well as summarizing correctly.  This will give you an idea of where they stand when it comes to comprehension and summarization.

Continue doing this over the course of reading this book.  At the end of the book, have children summarize the entire book for a final assessment of each child.


Cleary, Beverly. (1990). Muggie Maggie. New York, NY: Avon Books Inc.

 Dr. Murray’s Reading Genie:

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