How reading comprehension is embodied and why that matters

Arthur Glenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Reading comprehension, much like comprehension of situations and comprehension of oral language, is embodied. In all cases, comprehension is the ability to take effective action on the basis of affordances related to the body, the physical world, and personal goals and cultural norms. In language contexts, action-based comprehension arises from simulating the linguistic content using neural and bodily systems of perception, action, and emotion. Within this framework, a new approach to teaching reading comprehension is described: Teach children how to simulate while reading. The Moved by Reading intervention teaches simulation in two stages. In the first stage, physical manipulation, children manipulate toys to simulate the content of what they are reading. After success in physically manipulating the toys, the children are taught to manipulate the toys in imagination. Research demonstrates that both physical and imagined manipulation leads to large gains in memory and comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Electronic Journal of Elementary Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Embodiment
  • Moved by reading
  • Reading comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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