By Bonny Blake
Reading is more than just an eye test. Actual reading involves good comprehension of the written page.
One definition of ‘read’ is “to utter aloud written material;” if utilizing this meaning alone, of course you are reading. But there is more to reading than just uttering the written word. You must be able to understand. After reading the page, if you cannot answer questions about the material, you really just called out words. Understanding the message of the author is as important, if not more, than knowing each word. When this happens, you really are reading.
There are definitive skills involved in reading comprehension. Reading to children is very important. Always make sure to reinforce what has been read by asking questions on the topics. Do this especially during summer vacations and holidays, when children tend to lose some of the reading skills they’ve honed during the school year.. Kinds of questions you may ask:
1. Main Idea – What is the most important thing the paragraph, page, chapter, story, article, or cartoon is about The first sentence of a story or article may hold the clue as to the major theme or idea of the piece. The ensuing sentences support the major theme.
Here’s an example: I went to Florida on vacation. The weather was warm and sunny. I went swimming in the ocean. I collected shells on the beach.
For the example above, you can see that the beginning sentence really is the topic, and the rest of the sentences provide more detail.
2. Inferences – Making a conclusion based on an assumption or knowledge is an inference.
Example: The Eagle has made an historic landing. The only thing in sight are craggy rocks and cliffs. Shortly I will put on my space suit and be the first person to take a step on the moon.
With these observations, you can infer that a man will soon step on the moon. The first person to take a step on the moon was astronaut Neil Armstrong.
3. Projecting Outcomes – By understanding what you’ve just read you’ll have the ability to guess the next thing to take place. TV is a good time to improve this skill. Try doing it when you watch commercials.
For example: I had a bedtime snack then washed my hands and scrubbed my teeth and jumped into bed. My mother came in to read me a story. When she was finished, she kissed me goodnight.
The logical conclusion is the child will fall asleep.
4. Fact or Opinion – For something to be a fact it must have proof. An opinion does not need to be proven. It is based on what you believe.
Example: I am in the art museum. There is a huge exhibit from Picasso. He is the greatest artist that ever lived.
The first 2 sentences are facts but the last is an opinion. Your opinion if a reflection of what you think and does not have to agree with anyone else’s thoughts. Clues can be comparison words ending in ‘er’ (ie: prettier) or ‘est’ (ie: happiest), along with phrases such as ‘of all’ or ‘in the whole world.’
In conclusion, in order to read you must be able to know the words and explain their meaning. Being able to identify the main idea, what is inferred and guessing what will happen are some skills needed to comprehend what you’ve read.