[using] prior knowledge and information in a text to understand implied meaning. Making inferences helps readers move beyond the literal to a deeper understanding of texts. "
Keep in mind that the trick is to ask for information the author does not give but we figure out. We make inferences to understand actions, and behaviors. It helps us judge characters, understand their actions, and learn lessons. All these inferences are based on what we already know from our lives, and the clues the author gives us in the story.
In the deeper level, making inferences help us answer these questions:
- What do you think of a particular character? his/ her actions? attitude? feelings?
Now let's be practical. How does this work in a story like Goldilocks and the Three Bears: I am taking the illustration bellow, and quotes from the book Classic Fairy Tales illustrated by Scott Gustafson
"Looking into his bowl, the Great, Huge Bear said in his great, huge voice, "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN TASTING MY PORRIDGE!'
Ask: How does Papa bear know that someone ate his porridge? Where in the story helps you know that? How is he feeling about it? Where in the story helps you know that?
"And the Middle-Sized Bear said, "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR!"
Ask: How does Mama bear know that someone sat on her chair? Where in the story helps you know that? How is she feeling about it? Where in the story helps you know that?
"Out Goldilocks jumped and ran away as fast as she could run..."
Ask: How was Goldilocks feeling? Why do you think so? What in the story makes you think that?What do you think of Goldilocks? Why did she run away? Why do you think so? What parts of the story help you know that? What did you learn from her actions? What should she have done instead?
As for kicks, and to backup my explanation, I found this paragraph from The Ohio Resource Center under strategies for Literacy K-5: http://www.ohiorc.org/Literacy_K5/strategy/strategy_each.aspx?id=000001
"Think about the well-known character of Goldilocks. The authors of the many versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears do not explicitly state that Goldilocks does not think of others' feelings before acting. We can infer this, however, from information in the text. For example, Goldilocks enters the bears' house uninvited, eats their food, breaks their things, and takes a nap in their beds. This does not sound like the actions of a little girl who thinks about the feelings of others. We are able to back up this inference with evidence from the text."
I think it is really awesome that they use the same story (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) to explain this particular, and somehow difficult to explain reading strategy. I will let their example do the work!
Next: Understanding Text Structure
Note: if you want to read the other reading strategies click on the label: Reading Strategy on the right.