Have you ever challenged yourself with a big jigsaw puzzle, one with 500 – 1,000 pieces? The pieces all appear to be the same size (and equal in importance), though the shapes and colors may vary. Reading can be viewed in the same manner, with the pieces of the puzzle being the words within the paragraph. Each word may not seem equally important, but they are. If we take one word out of a sentence, we lose the full picture; similarly, one word out of a paragraph is also destructive. This is because words are like images within the puzzle. They all link together to complete the big picture— the main idea.

Although there is no real difference between spoken words and reading words on the page, many people think otherwise. The only difference is that speaking can be impromptu. Writing is premeditated, meaning that the words are written in advance and are carefully chosen to convey a certain message. Writing allows readers to translate the author’s carefully chosen words into the big picture for understanding. We learn the author’s message by putting the words of the puzzle together.

Listening or Reading—It’s the Same Picture

Picture yourself in a big comfy chair, listening to every word of your friend’s story. As you relax, the listening becomes easier and more natural. As you add your friend’s words (the pieces) in your head, you begin seeing the images in your mind to form the big picture, your friend’s concept. Reading follows the same manner. Highly skilled readers take words and piece them together to form and understand concepts.

But, if you listen to only one sentence or only certain words, will you understand your friend’s complete message? Unless you can read minds, you will not. If you read one sentence in a paragraph or if you choose certain words, the complete picture is not fully understood. That is why all words are important. In a paragraph, each sentence clarifies the preceding sentence.

Trust the Author to Paint the Picture

Authors write in a pattern so that readers can follow information. But sometimes the author makes a statement that needs clarification. Trust that she will clarify. The writer does not want to lose you—she wants readers to follow, so if you guess, you will lose the message.

Sometimes we visualize but don’t know whether the image is correct. Reading requires adjusting images as you continue to learn more. Students sometimes ask why all words need to be converted to images, instead of skipping what they don’t know yet. That is a recipe for disaster because if readers don’t make initial connections, they lose details that cannot be retrieved later—unless they want to reread. Reading and seeing is much different than guessing.

See What You Can, Regardless of Its Clarity

Have you ever read a novel and formed a picture of a character, but by the middle of the book, your impression of that character was entirely different? If you neglected to add all the character elements, you would not fully see and conceptualize from your reading.

It is important to readjust your imagery as you read. When we read, see, add images, and then connect those pieces, we gain strong understanding. Sometimes readers need to read with a blank page, meaning that they come to the text with the absence of a preconceived idea about the content. Remember that the author’s mission is to show the reader, and he will!

The Full Picture

Whenever you think of comprehending, think of that big jigsaw puzzle. You need every piece to complete the puzzle. Reading is an easy puzzle. The pieces are all there—you just need to put all the pieces together for understanding!

For more information, contact Cindy@rtssuccess.com