Executive Skills and Reading Comprehension

A Guide for Educators

Kelly B. Cartwright
Foreword by Nell K. Duke

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
July 13, 2015
ISBN 9781462521166
Price: $84.00
284 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
July 14, 2015
ISBN 9781462521142
Price: $34.00
284 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
July 10, 2015
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $34.00
284 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $68.00 $37.40
284 Pages

How do K-12 students become self-regulated learners who actively deploy comprehension strategies to make meaning from texts? This cutting-edge guide is the first book to highlight the importance of executive skills for improving reading comprehension. Chapters review the research base for particular executive functions—such as planning, organization, cognitive flexibility, and impulse control—and present practical skills-building strategies for the classroom. Detailed examples show what each skill looks like in real readers, and sidebars draw explicit connections to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Reproducible planning and assessment forms can be downloaded and printed in a convenient 8½“ x 11” size.

“This book will change the way practitioners and researchers think about and teach reading comprehension. It is a 'must have' for anyone who wants to know more about how executive skills influence this vital aspect of reading. Teachers and reading specialists will find accessible instructional advice. Researchers will find an integrated and exhaustive account of state-of-the-art research that bridges the fields of reading, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology. Cartwright’s style is informative yet practical and personable.”

—Katherine Hilden, PhD, School of Teacher Education and Leadership, Radford University

“Every teacher has experienced students who can decode fluently but struggle to make sense of text. This book offers a new perspective for working with these students. Demonstrating how executive skills—such as planning, cognitive flexibility, and impulse control—affect comprehension, Cartwright artfully translates foundational research into easy-to-implement classroom activities. Classroom teachers will find this an understandable and useful guide that can be put to immediate use.”

—Christina Saunders, MEd, EdS, reading specialist, Hanover County Public Schools, Virginia

“Timely and unique. Cartwright integrates blossoming research on executive processes with knowledge about the development of reading abilities, and offers straightforward classroom exercises to improve both sets of skills. This book needs to be used in teacher training programs and should be on the reading lists of advanced undergraduate developmental and educational seminars. As a text, it immerses students in cutting-edge cognitive-developmental research in the motivating context of reading improvement.”

—Stuart Marcovitch, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

“If you are a classroom teacher, reading specialist, or graduate student looking for one book that not only will have a deep impact on your understanding of thinking and learning, but also will significantly improve your instructional practice related to reading comprehension, look no further.Executive Skills and Reading Comprehensionis that book.”

—Robb Gaskins, PhD, Head of School, Benchmark School, Media, Pennsylvania

“This in-depth resource connects reading comprehension to the most important constellation of cognitive skills in childhood—executive function. The book takes an important, pragmatic step forward in teaching the whole child, and should find a home on teacher’s desks.”

—Adam J. Cox, PhD, author of No Mind Left Behind

Table of Contents

1. Executive Skills: What Are They, and Why Are They Important for Developing Thinking Readers?

2. Plans and Goals: Getting Ready to Read

3. Organization: Why Text and Reader Organization Matter

4. Cognitive Flexibility: Juggling Multiple Aspects of Reading

5. Working Memory: Holding and Linking Ideas in Mind While Reading

6. Inhibition and Impulse Control: Resisting Distractions to Support Comprehension

7. Social Understanding: The Importance of Mind Reading for Reading Comprehension

Epilogue: Linking the New with the Old: How Are Familiar Comprehension Skills and Strategies Related to Executive Skills?

Appendix A. Rubric for Assessing Executive Skills in Observations of Your Students’ Reading Behavior

Appendix B. List of Games Related to the Executive Skills Described in This Book


Children’s Literature Cited

About the Author

Kelly B. Cartwright, PhD, is Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Teacher Preparation at Christopher Newport University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in cognitive, language, and literacy processes. Her research focuses on the development of skilled reading comprehension and the neurocognitive and affective factors that underlie comprehension processes and difficulties from preschool through adulthood. Dr. Cartwright is the editor of the book Literacy Processes: Cognitive Flexibility in Learning and Teaching. She regularly works with teachers in schools throughout the United States to better understand and improve comprehension instruction for struggling readers.


K–12 classroom teachers, reading specialists, literacy coaches, and special educators; school psychologists; teacher educators, graduate students, and researchers.

Course Use

May serve as a text in such courses as Reading Comprehension.