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Any Child Can Read Better$
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Harvey S. Wiener

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195102185

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195102185.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 November 2021

"Just the Facts, Ma'am" : Reading For Information

"Just the Facts, Ma'am" : Reading For Information

(p.78) 5 "Just the Facts, Ma'am" : Reading For Information
Any Child Can Read Better

Harvey S. Wiener

Oxford University Press

In the last chapter, we looked at how examining pages before actually reading them provides useful advance preparation for young readers at home. Let's look now at the act of reading itself. How do we get the most out of what we read? Researchers now say that we can best understand what happens when someone reads if we think of reading as a process—a process in which a reader and writer transact information. For the time being, we're going to think of reading exclusively as print-bound. (We'll reconsider this premise later on.) The writer provides words, sentences, and paragraphs. The reader brings to the writer's pages personal experiences and impressions, knowledge of language, individual attitudes, thoughts, and ideas. In reading, both reader and writer engage in a kind of conversation to work out the message together. Not only the writer, but the reader as well, has considerable responsibility in determining meaning. Most enlightened educators no longer regard the old notion of a single, correct, absolute meaning for a piece of writing; readers and writers together shape the ideas captured by the words. The transactional activities involve sophisticated skills, such as what we infer from a reading, what generalizations and conclusions we draw, what judgments we make of the writer's effort—others, too, as you can imagine. We learn the advanced skills as we mature as readers, and I'm going to explore those skills throughout many of the remaining chapters of this book. Yet our ability to reach those more advanced regions of thought rests very much on what we perceive as the writer's essential idea, the nuggets of vital information contained in what we read. In short, we try to see that everything comes together in an answer to this question: "What is the writer trying to say?" Educators usually refer to a reader's basic ability to grasp information—facts, if you will—as literal comprehension. Literal comprehension means understanding the main idea that the writer is trying to convey and knowing the essential details that contribute to and support that main idea.

Keywords:   Chronological information, Details, Main idea, Opinion words, Paragraph arrangement, Spatial arrangement

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