The purpose of reading comprehension is for a reader to understand and interpret what he reads. In order to follow a story, the reader must comprehend what is happening as the story progresses. If the reader cannot comprehend written information, he is not unable to learn from it and use it effectively.
Without good reading comprehension, a person may be able to pronounce the words in a text but not be able to grasp which parts are important or to determine the main idea of a passage. He may have trouble following the sequence of events in a story to understand why something happened the way it did. He may be unable to visualize a description, whether of a crime scene in a mystery, an action scene or of an explanation of an economic principle.
Reading comprehension is an active process. The reader decodes the text and derives meaning from it. The process occurs before, during and after the act of reading. Prior to reading, the reader develops questions and expectations about the reading, things to look for as he reads. During reading, comprehension strategies such as visualizing and paraphrasing help the reader relate the text information to what he already knows. Afterwards, the reader reflects on how the reading met his expectations and how it differed from them. He organizes and analyzes the information. His comprehension of the reading enables him to draw conclusions and synthesize new information or ideas.