Good readers are like good detectives. As readers, we play the role of detective as we actively seek to uncover the author's hidden meanings. Writers do not give the reader entire messages or meanings --writers slowly leak meaning by laying out very deliberate clues.
Writers expect their readers to find these clues and use them to actively unlock the underlying meaning in their words. We call this "reading detective work"-Inferring.
To introduce this concept to students, I engage them in a conversation about detectives and the jobs they do. Students identify the detective they are most familiar with, e.g., Blues Clues, CSI, Nancy Drew...
We create an anchor chart that reads: What Good Detectives Do. We talk about how good detectives ask questions, search for clues, and use their experience to help figure things out. After a fairly rich list, I help students recognize the similarities between good reading and good detective work.
Great readers will ask questions, look for clues and use their experience to understand those clues will be on their way to solving the meaning mystery.
Readers who infer must "act like a detective" if successful comprehension is to be the result.