Making Connections When Reading: Why is it Important?

Today, I was teaching and we were discussing a book I had wrote a themed reader response on. Students were to examine the criteria and discuss whether or not I met the criteria. One of the criteria related to comprehension strategies and wanted the writer to make connections past the book. As different table groups were examining the text piece, I was brought up short when a student asked me, “Why do we need to make connections?”
My gut reaction was to say, “Because it is important.” Thankfully, my mouth was not working as fast as my brain, and I withheld my first thought and asked her, “How do we make connections?”
This led down the path to explaining three types of connections.
  • Text to Self: Connections between the text and the reader’s personal experience
  • Text to World: Connections between the text and how it relates to world events and what is happening in the world
  • Text to Text: Connections between the text and another text the reader has read
She now understood there were different types of connections and she could give examples of them. I thought I had done my job and she now would be able to reflect on the text and give suggestions on how connections could be added to the writing. This is when she asked an even bigger question, “Why would anyone want to read the connections I make?”
WOW! How am I going to answer this question, since the reader responses I want them to do will be read by other students? I know when a student personally makes connections to reading they:
  • gain a deeper understanding of the book.
  • really start to understand the book on a different level.
  • are encouraged to use background knowledge
I tried to explain by sharing your connections with the book you help the reader to identify with what you are saying and possibly understand better. It can also make them more interested in reading the book. She can see how making connections to the world and to other texts might be interesting, but she really struggled with the personal connections. I left her to add points referencing world and text connections.
I am left to ponder her question and dig into some helpful books which focus on the comprehension strategies. She has given me some homework.
Here are a couple of my favorite resources on the topic of comprehension strategies: