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The Reading Process

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Reading or the social construction of meaning from print is a complex process and actively involves the reader, who must interact with the printed page to derive meaning. Good teaching, background knowledge or schema, motivation, interest, prior experiences with reading, exposure to print, and resiliency all influence how efficient and effective one is during the reading process.

No two readers are alike and no two dyslexics experience the same difficulties with language in the same way. However, there are commonalities that both good and struggling readers show that when identified, provide important information for instructional planning purposes. All students, for example, can acquire the skills and motivation to become effective or successful lifelong readers. Motivation involves wanting to "pick up that book or reading" consistently if not daily and for two major reasons: (1) because reading personally satisfies a need, curiosity, or interest and (2) reading will provide the means to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to live successful and fulfilling lives. According to Jerry Johns and Susan Lenski (2001), motivating readers is also a complex task that needs to involve modeling for students the desire and love for reading and good reading habits so that students develop positive "motivational dispositions" toward reading.

Reading Is Multidimensional

Learning to read is a very difficult task since it is multidimensional in nature. Effective readers need to consistently and efficiently (rapidly) apply their knowledge of the phonology of language to words during readings while constructing meaning. Short-term (e.g., remembering what was just read) and long-term memories (i.e., schemata) are activated while the reader is interacting with text, linking new information to what is known and what was just read. During all of this, readers continuously make and then confirm or disconfirm text predictions, summarize, make inferences, and draw conclusions. Metacognitive monitoring of one's own accuracy with regard to word identification and comprehension is constant. Depending on the reading purpose, readers are also adjusting their reading rates (relatively fast rates when skimming is needed; slower rates when attending to details for exam preparations) while organizing the information they commit to long-term memory.

Dyslexics Experience Difficulties with Fluency and the Phonology of Language.  With regard to specific subcomponents of the reading task that pose difficulties for individuals with dyslexia, deficiencies in fluency and the phonology of language (e.g., phonemic awareness) have been well documented as beginning at a young age (Grosser & Spafford, 2000). Phonemic awareness is strongly correlated to word recognition and spelling (Adams, 1991; Goswani & Bryant, 1990) and therefore is requisite to developing reading proficiency.

Establish a Reading Purpose

Readers need to be meaningfully engaged or have a purpose for reading. According to Fernando, grade 3 gifted reader, "...I used to hate reading...then I read Spanish and English books...that showed me how fun reading could be...." It wasn't until Fernando could make some language and cultural connections with his home language, Spanish, that reading in English became fun and purposeful.

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