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The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension. When children understand what they're reading, they will truly enjoy the activity so that learning happens naturally. Reading becomes the means to an end for a lifelong learner. Lifelong learners are curious and continuously seek out information to expand their knowledge base. They take that information and think about it; synthesizing, predicting, and making inferences to come up with their own interpretations and ideas. And most of this initial knowledge comes from reading books, magazines, online research, instructions, etc. Can you begin to appreciate the importance of helping our learners not only read the words, but to proactively think about what they're reading so they are able to comprehend?

I like to use the analogy of an orchestra playing its final concert to explain the synergy that must occur for reading comprehension to take place. An orchestra is made up of many instrumental sections, each with their own unique contribution to the piece of music being played. Every section must independently practice and learn their music correctly. (This is similar to the individual reading skill sets—such as vocabulary, phonics, and comprehension—that your reader needs to learn.)

Once each instrumental section has mastered its music, the conductor directs the musicians to play their parts together in a rhythmic and harmonious way. (Your learner is the conductor who needs to blend the various skills while reading, to successfully navigate the text.) The result of the music practice that took place, individually and then as a group, is a pleasing concert that entertained the audience. (The pleasing concert is similar to the satisfaction and meaning your reader experiences with the comprehension of text.)

The skill sets that make up The Reading House all work together to promote an end result of comprehension. The foundational skills of reading with babies and toddlers, learning to love literature, and understanding phonics must first occur to propel a youngster into the world of reading. The four Reading House pillars—reading strategies, reading routines, word play, and Language Arts skills—must then be taught independently, and then synthesized, for readers to become independent. This systematic process will lead to the ultimate rationale for reading, which is to understand and enjoy the text's meaning.

                             "Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting."

             – Edmund Burke (1729–1797), Irish statesman, orator, political theorist and philosopher