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Using what you know or can figure out to help you understand an author

The reader’s job is a tough one. When you read just about anything you quickly discover that you are not provided with a full picture. You will be left with many unanswered questions when you’ve finished reading a book or article. Authors intentionally or unintentionally leave out details. They often give you only part of a story and frequently set the reader up with false information. Sometimes authors attempt to persuade you with exaggeration or by appealing to your feelings. As a reader, it’s up to you to figure out what on earth the author is really saying and make sense of it.

Sometimes you will know something about the author’s topic and this really helps you understand. Discussing a text with a friend who has read the same thing also helps. Mostly, however, you are on your own and must use your own experiences and your detective skills to infer what the author is implying.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself that might help you infer:

What do I already know about this topic?

What is my experience in a similar situation?

Why might the author have included these particular facts?

Which words or ideas are repeated or emphasized?

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