Good readers can distinguish between important and unimportant information. As they read they will identify the key ideas or themes. Readers will also ignore irrelevant information. Finally they will combine the central ideas in a meaningful way.
Summaries are like movie previews that give enough information to understand the plot without giving everything away. Summarizing can help improve the readers memory of what has been read.
“There’s a big difference between information and knowledge. We have an abundance of information, but information alone is meaningless. It has to be thought about and organized and then internalized, and then maybe you will end up with knowledge. You get from disparate facts to knowledge only if you take the time to determine what’s important so that it becomes meaningful.”
– Susan Zimmermann (7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It!)
What you can do at home
- After reading a large passage or chapter ask your child if they can remember the most important ideas or events and restate them in their own words.
- Remind them to only include the most important events and ideas.
- In nonfiction texts, the layout can help your child focus on what’s important. The headings, pictures, captions, maps and graphs all support the main ideas. Be sure your child doesn’t skip over these parts.