ACTIVE READING is a very useful strategy to help readers get the most out of what they read. This is what kids should be learning so they can improve their comprehension. So what is ACTIVE READING? In a nutshell it is the reading strategy to build a conversation between the reader and the text they read. Instead of simply trying to remember and understand what you read, you question the information in the text and try to figure out many different possible meanings and implications in everything that the writer put there at every twist and turns. This active interpretation of the reading text as you read it helps you to understand it a lot better. It helps you to figure out the hidden meanings and other things that you normally won't get.
Let's look at an example of a little extract from Three Little Pigs.
"Once upon a time there were three little pigs and when they were old enough, then mother decided it was time for them to seek adventure in the big wild world. So, one sunny morning they packed their clothes and some sandwiches and off they went.
One day the three little pigs happened upon a lovely woodland clearing and each thought it was a perfect place to build their houses. "I am going to build my house from straw", said the first little pig. "There's a lot of it and it will take very little time."
"I am going to build my house from sticks." said the second little pig. "There are so many of them in this woodland and it will take me no time at all." "I am going to build my house from bricks", said the third little pig. "It will be strong and sturdy."
His brothers laughed as they knew the bricks would be heavy and his house would take a long time to build. Theirs would be finished much sooner and they would be free to play in the sunshine. So the three little pigs started to build their houses.
One day the first little pig was in house of straw and outside appeared a big bad wolf. The wolf shouted, "little pig, little pig let me in." Not by the hair of chinny chin chin," he replied. "Okay!", said the wolf. "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down." So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the straw house down. "
As you guide your kid along, you get to the spot "mother decided it was time ...", it is time to throw in a comment or question.
Hah! What a mother! Just the right time that people want to make bacon out of those pigs!
When you get to " ... from straw ...", it is time to throw in a comment.
Surely that would be nice if you get a wild fire! Roasted pig is on the menu. Any one?
By trying to guide kids to create conversations and question or comment on everything they read along the way, they build a habit for ACTIVE READING.
Eventually the kids develop the skills to read and interpret everything they read very actively as they go along using their own experience and past knowledge. They would do this rapidly and unconsciously without being aware of it. They let their imagination run wild and constantly evaluate what they are reading (in real time) by testing the information with what they already have in their mind.
They also enjoy reading more. They save time on looking up words as they will be able to figure out meaning of words by context clues better than those who only do passive reading. So it is funny to imagine that kids should talk to the texts they read. But this is true. They should talk to the texts they read. They should pretend to question the writer. They should talk to themselves as well! This sounds crazy but this how good readers do ACTIVE READING.