To see how to teach children to understand, we must first ask: What is one doing when one is trying to "understand" something? Much of what we are doing is trying to make explicit what is implicit in a sentence or, more generally, in a situation. What matters in understanding is inference-making. Inference-making is the process of making best guesses about what a speaker must have meant, apart from what he said explicitly. When actions or goals of a character aren't stated, we need to figure them out for ourselves. When we are told that someone wants to do something, we must ask ourselves why, if we want to understand what is going on.
When adults read stories, they make inferences automatically and unconsciously. But when six-year-olds read, they often do not do this. What does an adult know that child of six does not? On the face of it, this seems like a silly question. An adult has a sophisticated knowledge of the whole world; a child understands only a small part of what is present in his immediate environment. To rephrase the question then, what does an adult know that enables him to read that a six-year-old does not know?
Main Task of Teaching Reading
Where am I in the content of the book?