Without some background information about what you are reading, some things just won't make sense. Consider each of the following pieces of art and the background knowledge you need to understand them.
When readers read, they think about what the text is about and remind themselves of what they already know about the topic. Thinking about your background knowledge helps you get your mind ready for new information. Consider what you already know about the topics in each of these text excerpts. What background knowledge do you have to help you understand as you read this story/text? What do you have to know before you can understand what these excerpts are telling you?
The Rough-Face Girl
written by Rafe Martin
illustrated by David Shannon
Off from the other wigwams of this village stood one great huge wigwam.
Baloney (Henry P.)
written by Jon Scieszka
illustrated by Lane Smith
That's it," said Miss Bugscuffle. "Permanent Lifelong Detention... unless you have one very good and very believable excuse."
Let's Read About... Ru
written by Bridges by Ruby Bridges and Grace Maccarone
illustrated by Conelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
Some people did not want Ruby to go to the white school. They stood in front of the school and yelled at Ruby to go away.
The Story of Chocolate
written by C.J. Polin
illustrated by Peter Dennis
Cacao trees grow in the ancient area called Mesoamerica, which includes southern Mexico and Central America.
Let's practice getting our minds ready for new information by activating our background knowledge. Pretend you're getting ready to read a book about seals. What information do you have? What if you were getting ready to read a book about bones? Turn and talk to your partner about what you already know about these topics.
Before you read today, jot down a word or two that describes the topic of the book or the chapter that you are going to be reading. Before you begin reading, take two minutes to write down as many things as you can think of that you already know about this topic. As you are reading, notice when you use your background knowledge to understand what you are reading. Let's share these when we come back together as a group.
Share your list of background knowledge with your partner. As you share, tell your partner what information you used to help you better understand what you were reading. After you share, we will talk about how it might be different to read books about topics you already know a lot about than it would be to read books about topics that are new to you.