Making Connections

Making connections is a reading comprehension strategy that involves linking what is being read (the text) to what is already known (schema, or background knowledge). The strategy promotes engagement while reading and, in turn, a deep understanding of the text. There are three main types of connections:

  • Text-to-Text connections involve, as the name suggests, a link between the text currently being read and a text that was previously read. You can encourage students to make text-to-text connections by keeping a running list of books read as a class posted in the classroom and by using guiding questions such as Does this book remind you of any other books you have read? and How is this book similar to/different from other books you have read?
  • Text-to-Self connections involve linking the text and the reader’s personal experiences. You can encourage students to make text-to-self connections by asking students guiding questions such as Can you relate to any of the characters in the story? or Does anything in the book remind you of your own life?
  • Text-to-World connections involve linking the text to an event or phenomena that happen in the larger world. This is the most difficult of the three types of connections, especially for younger students whose schema is often limited to their own life and experiences. You can encourage students to make text-to-world connections by ensuring that students have well-developed schema before beginning to read. You can also pose questions like Does this remind you of anything in the real world? or How is this book similar to/different from things that happen in the real world?

With making connections, as with any other reading comprehension strategy, it is important that teachers model the strategy for students. Provide time for supported practice, either by working as a whole class and allowing students to share connections they’ve made or by working in small groups. Only after students show proficiency in these situations should they be expected to apply the strategy independently. Posting questions, such as the ones listed above, can provide continued support for students as they read.

The resources highlighted below provide further information about the strategy of making connections.

Making Connections
Part of the Into the Book web site, this area provides definitions for teachers and students, learning objectives, videos, lessons, books, research, and links for further information.

Making Connections
This strategy guide from ReadWriteThink includes the research basis for the strategy, a look at the strategy in practice, and related resources.

Reading Strategy: Making Connections
A slide show (16 slides) about the three types of connections. Includes examples. The slide show could be used to introduce the strategy to upper-elementary students.

Comprehension Strategies
Information and resources for teaching six comprehension strategies, including making connections.

In our article Making Connections with Literacy Lessons you will find ready-to-use ideas for lessons at different grade levels.  Each lesson is aligned with the national English language arts standards.

This article was written by Jessica Fries-Gaither. Jessica is an education resource specialist at The Ohio State University and project director of Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle and  Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears. She has taught in elementary and middle school settings. Email Jessica at

Copyright December 2011 – The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1034922. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This work is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.

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