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Comprehension is the act of meaning making. Comprehension emerges with other meaning-making abilities, such as the ability for language, writing, and image making. Reading comprehension is the act of meaning making with printed text. Readers comprehend text by constructing a meaning for the text. Reading comprehension—or meaning making—is the goal for reading printed texts.

Learning to comprehend what is read is a developmental process called “emergent comprehension” and can begin as soon as texts are present during a young child’s social interactions. Emergent comprehension is especially important for early childhood education because it describes how children construct meaning with text prior to conventional reading and provides educators and caregivers with a framework for designing developmentally appropriate education. This entry describes the phases of emergent comprehension, origins ...

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