Reading Vipers

In school, we use a system called VIPERS. This stands for:







We use this as a strategy to teach the skills of reading and it is applicable to any age child and any text. Parents can use this strategy at home while they read with their child to help them build these skills, either by asking questions for a child to answer or ‘modelling’ the skill for a child, which is showing them how to seek the answers. This could look something like this:



“What does  … word mean? And how do you know?”

“Can you find the word in the text that means the same as …”

[modelling] “It says that he was wandering aimlessly – I wonder what that means? I think it could be walking because if we go for a wander, we go out somewhere. Shall we find out exactly what it means?”


Inference – this is seeking meaning from text:

“The boy is the book is happy – how do we know this from the text?” E.g. it could say he had a huge grin on his face or that he was bouncing around.

“The characters are described as ruddy and weathered – what does this tell us about their lives?”

[modelling] “I think the boy is sad because it said a tear rolled down his cheek and I know this because when we are sad, we cry and we shed tears.”



“What do you think will happen on the next page/chapter etc? Why do you think that?”

[modelling] “I think they might try and rescue their friend next because the character loves his friend and she’s really brave so she’ll be up for the challenge.”



“This story takes place in the past. How do you know that?”

“Why do you think the author chose the phrase ‘a ragged beast’ to describe the man?”

[modelling] “I think the author has made the story dramatic by leaving the chapter on a cliffhanger.”


Retrieve – these are ‘simple’ comprehension questions.

“ What was the character’s best friend called?”

“ How many times did the children play a game together?”

“How did the characters get back home?”

[modelling] “The character’s favourite toy is his teddy bear because it says here [pointing to text] that he loves his teddy bears and always chooses to play with it.”


Sequence (for younger children) / Summarise (for older children):

“Where was the first place they went? Where did they go next?”

“Can you retell the story in order?”

[modelling] “They went to the bus stop first and then if I keep reading it says they drove to the town and then the farm afterwards.”


“What happened in this chapter? Can you summarise it”

“What was the theme/moral of this story?”

[modelling] “The main point of this chapter was the character overcoming adversity because she had to fight the dragon without any equipment and she had to use her wits to defeat it.”

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Accelerated Reader
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