Good readers are active readers, and active readers use the following strategies:
Metacognition: Metacognition is the act of thinking about your thinking when you read. It is also called self-monitoring. When readers are metacognitive they know what they know, know what they don’t know, and know how to apply fix-up strategies when they are confused.
Activate background knowledge: Background knowledge is everything you bring to a book: your life experiences, the places you’ve been, your relationships, everything you’ve heard, seen, smelled, touched, tasted, and even what you believe. The very act of living your life adds to background knowledge. After metacognition, it is the most important reading strategy.
Visualize: Vizualization is making a movie in your mind when you read. Our visualizations are unique to us and our background knowledge. If I read a book about growing up in northern Illinois, my visual images are possibly going to be more detailed than yours because I lived there as a child.
Infer: Inferring includes making predictions, reading on the line (inferring at the word level using context clues and word substitution), reading between the lines (making inferences about what the author has implied), and reading beyond the lines (creating a unique meaning that combines background knowledge, the text, and personal response). Inferences are evidence based guesses. Background knowledge generally helps us be successful, so in general, Text + Background Knowledge = Successful Inference.
Question: Readers need to question as they read. The most basic and useful question is, “Does this make sense?” Students ask questions that help them understand the text, “Why did Sam do that?” They also wonder, and hopefully end each book with big questions that draw them beyond the book into deeper thinking and learning.
Determine Importance: The meaning of this strategy is self-evident, but this is the most difficult strategy to teach. Like many of the strategies, it links back to background knowledge. The more we know about what we are reading, the easier it is to pick out the main idea and important details.
Synthesize: Condensing or summarizing reading material from one or more text.
Evaluate: We evaluate when we judge the worth of what we have read. There are many frameworks through which to evaluate. For example, readers can evaluate the quality of writing, or whether a piece of writing contains fact or opinion.