The Reading Process

The Reading Process

How to Successfully Learn Academic Content from Books using Mega-Learning Skills?

1. Organize

Organize, Study Abstract, and Communicate

For readers to be successful at learning academic content, they need to know not only facts but also how to connect and organize ideas. Readers need to develop and continuously expand foundational content knowledge to thrive academically and in life. Foundational content refers to conceptual understanding, knowledge development, and academic vocabulary growth across reading categories that include the humanities, social science, natural science, and prose fiction. The reading categories consist of topics and educational content covered in school. As early as possible, our youngest intellectuals should begin to build content knowledge and abstract meaning as they learn new words, identify new objects, and hear new language sounds.

Reading skills such as finding the main idea first fail to recognize the brain's high-level abilities to retain content knowledge. Children need to initially learn concepts to understand, sort, and store massive amounts of foundational information early on. From baby to toddler to child, the brain takes a big picture view of the world, and then, like a human filing system, sorts and stores learned content by concepts. This learned content comes from the reading of diverse books. Thus, building a home or classroom library of books is essential if you want your children/students to retain critical foundational content areas, especially vocabulary.

Each child deserves a personalized library that he or she can select books from daily. Once parents and educators model good reading behavior, young intellectuals will transition from hearing the reader's voice during a read-aloud session to reaching for pictures on a page to eventually reading independently. We capture each phase, from baby to toddler to child, and support each learning stage with books—with the ultimate goal being independent reading.

First, organize books by reading category, genre, and learning stage. You can learn more about your child's appropriate learning stage and reading category selections on our website homepage. Schools should visit our Intellectual Classroom.

Next, depending on your child's or student's readiness, there are two reading approaches to consider. For instance, you can choose from the four reading categories and purchase books from a genre of interest or select books from our suggested genres, geography, history, or language. These three genres help establish foundational content knowledge about people, places, and language development.

Lastly, download the mini-planner as a terrific starter guide to reading to learn more about the world around us. Shop our curated booklists on geography, history, or language to start building a home or classroom library for young intellects!

The goal is to: (1) identify the learning stage, (2) determine the reading experience level, (3) browse the curated booklist recommendations,  (4) download the planner and use either the starter genre outlined in the Reading to Learn planner or use the reading categories approach to begin the reading process, (5) follow the "read to learn sheets" which highlight what content knowledge is essential to retain (7) use the planner to log books read and take notes on the "read to learn sheets," (8) set goals to shop for books in new genres or buy more books to deep dive into the same genre.

As readers continue to learn within a studied genre, it is critical to gather and abstract the meaning of new words and ideas. The planning to read sheets with the mini-planner serves as an instructional guide to highlight text attributes and content. As readers gain experience moving from book to book within a specific genre, they learn to recognize patterns and trends in the content. In turn, this content builds content knowledge and strengthens vocabulary. Once readers move onto new genres, the content between genres begins to interconnect through conceptual information.

The free downloadable Reading to Learn mini-planner gives you a head start on the genre approach to learning. The planner offers content guides on geography, history, and language arts. Feel free to use these guides while reading to discover how text features convey important foundational content.

We recommend that young readers start with books from the following three genre-types: history, geography, and language arts. These books help readers garner a reliable picture of the world around us. Thus, when learners read content about each topic, they begin to add information into their mental filing system. In turn, the knowledge development process begins. Readers learn new vocabulary, details, descriptions, and facts and then sort and store this foundational content.

The Intellectual Bookshop provides curated book lists organized by the learning stage, genre, and reading categories. These books open up a world of content to young readers.

As we discussed earlier, our goal is to organize a library and then either begin to read-a-loud with children or partake in independent reading for advanced readers. Once genre-based libraries are in place, young intellectuals start to notice patterns while reading and re-reading the same text. As the content becomes more familiar, readers study and learn the meaning of new terms, ideas, details, and topics within the genre.

Young intellectuals also begin to organize their thinking with the help of the "plan to read sheets" and content guides. This process of (1) gathering content knowledge via the organized library, (2) studying and abstracting new ideas, and words and (3) chatting about all the newly learned information refers to Mega-Learning.

Readers learn the necessary concepts and then store important content information first. They then use the mega-learning skills, organize, study, abstract, and communicate, OSAC) to gather content intentionally. This process, in turn, builds concepts, vocabulary, and content knowledge.

As a result, once children are in school, tasks such as finding the main idea, analyzing text, and meta-cognitive thinking will come easier. At this foundational level, Mega-learning and OSAC skills make sense as young intellectuals excitedly communicate new words, combine ideas, and discover trends between books.

The Reading to Learn process emphasizes the basis of our company's signature reading to learn tool - Mega learning skills (OSAC). Combined with genre-based content guides and "plan to read sheets," these tools help readers gain foundational content knowledge.

When we review the reading methods currently used within the educational industry, typical instruction focuses more on meta-skills over foundational content knowledge, knowledge development, academic vocabulary, and conceptual understanding. When we look at traditional reading lessons, meta-cognitive analysis, like finding the main idea or character traits, often appears first.

Moreover, meta-thinking asks the reader what he or she is thinking about while reading and why. However, this approach may be too advanced for inexperienced readers. Metacognition assumes students have sufficient foundational content knowledge. Thus, young readers with limited foundational content knowledge in vocabulary or background information will find it difficult to analyze a text or book.

In traditional learning environments, meta-thinking skills commonly use prose fiction; teachers often discuss the plot, setting, author's purpose, and character descriptions. These teaching methods form the base of reading comprehension from pre-K to high school.


Instead of starting with these metacognitive skills, we suggest studying more diverse genre-types and doing more independent reading. In turn, students will gain background knowledge, acquire vocabulary, deepen conceptual understanding, and effectively prepare for reading comprehension.

To build a deeper understanding of the author's purpose, readers may need to know why the setting is essential to the plot or understand key ideas and details in the story to comprehend its meaning. While reading, students' background knowledge informs their thought process.

Additionally, readers need to understand geography terms to understand the details within a story. For instance, knowledge about a mountainous landform, a region's attributes, or a fictional animal's habitat may be necessary to a book's plot development. However, if a reader has limited knowledge of geography, the reader will not comprehend this information. Similarly, if a student encounters a fictional war story and has little experience with real-life historical events, there is little comprehension. Without language development knowledge, how can a reader understand when an author uses figurative speech, idioms, or metaphors?

Introducing mega-learning skills first helps young intellectuals gather critical foundational content knowledge early on. Mega-learning takes place before meta-thinking. The idea behind mega-learning reveals a more obvious content or informational gap for young inexperienced readers rather than a perceived achievement gap.

Suppose young readers can access diverse books or have classroom environments that fully integrate foundational content knowledge and reading comprehension skills during instructional time. We could see a shift in academic performance. Some considerations include increasing independent reading time, increasing informational content within instruction, and ensuring complete mastery of foundational word knowledge content.

The Intellectual Bookshop recommends that young intellectuals increase their independent reading time. Independent reading at home or school allows young scholars to explore more books and subjects in depth. In turn, this activity supports the building of crucial foundational content knowledge. This process will enable students to gain background knowledge, acquire vocabulary, and deepen conceptual understanding. As a result, students can tackle complex text later in school.


Independent reading prepares students for complex sentences within lengthy informational and fictional texts, technical vocabulary, and the high demands of navigating dense ideas. To prepare readers for rigorous, complex books, we recommend that young learners start reading three specific genres: geography, history, and language development.

The core components of foundational content knowledge include reading the history, geography, and language arts genres. Suppose learners have very little background knowledge of these areas, limited vocabulary, and difficulty connecting concepts. In this case, these three genres, or starter genres, are a great starting place for learners.


History, geography, and language arts represent significant portions of the world around us. After all, these genres include people, places, things, and words to describe them. For young readers to learn new concepts, the super genre outline provides a manageable way to begin reading. Eventually, they discover patterns and trends that connect the world's big picture view by studying different genres.

A review of the outline shows the commonalities between the super genres and the other genre-types. For instance, geography includes physical geography, physical landforms, and human geography, studying how human activity affects the earth. Through geography, a connection between geology, theater, and architecture, for example, is revealed. The same situation occurs when one studies history. Through the study of past events, readers learn to make appropriate connections. Thus, if beginner learners use the genre approach to reading and researching first, they will be more successful.

As strong readers move onto the reading categories, they should already have solid foundational content knowledge. In other words, they should be familiar with subject-specific content areas, vocabulary and connect concepts across genre-types.


Both educators and advanced readers can use specific reading categories when building a diverse library. The reading categories, prose, humanities, natural science, and social science, generate a mental big picture view of the world. At this advanced level, it is essential that reading occurs with a purpose in mind. Diversity and balance derive from genre selections and reading categories.

The Humanities and Prose Fiction

Humanities cover the factual side of reading about people, places, music, art, dance, events, and relationships. The humanities category also looks at historical figures, contemporary people, idealism, and points of view.  Prose fiction, on the other hand, consists of narrative accounts where fictional characters reflect real life. Literary elements like setting, plot, mood, and tone drive prose fiction's story organization. Thus, if readers have a limited understanding of history, geography, or language content, literature comprehension can be difficult.

The Social and Natural Sciences

Social Science studies the cause and effect relationships in human society. Genre-types within the social sciences pay close attention to subject areas that include politics, history, and geography. Social Science also delves into education by outlining dates, concepts of thought, philosophy, and social views. That said, social science is different from natural science, which tends to explain nature and the scientific world.

Readers are encouraged to spend time reading independently. At the same time, readers should also maintain the right balance of reading and making connections across categories and genre-types.


2. Study

What to Study, When to Study, and Why?

The art of reading, writing, and reasoning form a traditional liberal arts education — otherwise known as "The Arts." The Arts consist of: (1) the field of all knowledge and (2) set timeframes to study different knowledge levels.

The field of all knowledge includes four reading categories: humanities, prose fiction, natural science, and social science. Each reading category further divides all knowledge into subject-specific areas or genres. To also help our young readers, The Intellectual Bookshop uses the division of liberal arts genres as a starting point to build background knowledge.

Young intellectuals study the Arts from Pre-K-12th grade to prepare for college, while students with an avid interest in the applied arts might pursue the appropriate schools for a career in the trades. Applied Arts, or the career side as we know it, differs from the Liberal Arts side. To be more specific, the Applied Arts addresses essential work skills in trades such as carpentry, plumbing, masonry, or salesmanship.

In comparison, the liberal arts are both science and art in that science is to know, and art is to do something. Subject-specific genres like math, music, geometry, and astronomy make up liberal arts under the humanities umbrella. That said, the fine arts refer to architecture, music, sculpture, painting, literature, drama, and dance. On the other hand, medicine, law, engineering, or theology require a Bachelor of Arts or Science at a minimum with the option to pursue a master's or doctorate to attain full mastery of a subject area.

To pass the tradition of the liberal arts onto young intellectuals in grades K-12, both parents' and educators' participation is critical. After all, K-12 education provides the foundational layer of the arts and works in the same two ways — even at a young age. Schooling offers both the knowledge and study techniques our youngest benefactors need to thrive.

Scholars move onto higher education levels throughout their educational careers by obtaining degrees and diplomas at colleges and universities. The Bachelor's degree is simply another way of dividing the arts into specific-subjects or genres. Young intellectuals often go onto higher education with a major and minor interest to study. Higher education provides even more complex subject-specific content and study techniques. Through the Master and Doctorate degrees of study, students further expand their knowledgebase and learn more complex content and research skills.

Thus, K-12 requisite learning provides students with the foundation and preparation needed to succeed and move forward. Through this process, well-trained educators and parents guide young intellectuals through the tradition of the arts.

To be more specific, K-12 arts education may look like the following:

Students begin their journey by reading prose or narrative accounts where fictional characters reflect life. They learn how literary elements, like setting, plot, mood, and tone, shape the storyline. Young readers use history and geography to deepen their focus when reading fictional books; whenever there is a lack of knowledge, any information gap in readers increases.

The understanding lies in acquiring background knowledge from the content areas long before kindergarten even starts. By following the reading planner and study guide, readers build background knowledge and vocabulary and connect concepts as early as possible.

Please note that the planner works at any learning stage — even for older children who may need to play catch-up. That said, to avoid late-stage learning, the baby and toddler stages are opportune times to begin the reading process. However, if needed, audiobooks and read-aloud books are among the most impactful ways to support learning during the child stage.

In an authentic arts-based education, young intellectuals ultimately need the essential skills of reading, writing, and reckoning to relate learned facts into a unified, organic conceptual whole. To properly prepare young intellectuals, they should learn about as many genre areas as possible. As you will see, the Arts all fit together through concepts, systems, cycles, patterns, laws, principles, and theories.

Students acquire a three-dimensional Arts understanding when they can use facts, ideas, and details to connect information from one genre's conceptual answers to big questions to another genre. Also, at this stage, the reading process becomes more deliberate because as readers read a particular genre, they can ask appropriate questions and compare one book to the next. We want readers to read for a purpose and be curious about the discovery of new information.

The planner provides a genre-based content guide, read-to-learn worksheets, lists of reading categories, and different genres to study. Moreover, using the world around us, the planner highlights three starter genres to frame all knowledge.

The content guides give a scope of what you should encounter while reading. The guides tell us that books are based on people, places, things, and the language used to describe them.

Developing knowledge about people, places, things, and language by reading is the core work of young intellectuals. The read-to-learn sheets help readers discover how to organize books and information, what concepts to study, and what terms to know. Further, young people learn how to abstract contextual meaning and then communicate how the arts interconnect. As you can see, the Reading to Learn process integrates all of the reading process components and makes reading more accessible.


3. Abstract

Abstraction helps learners diagram ideas or create visualizations of complex data. Abstraction in learning refers to using a general thought or word to represent a physical concept. All representations, i.e., ideas, are abstractions. Readers grow their abstracting skills, noting the similarities and differences as they sort information into categories based on physical concepts.

It is not enough for children to receive and retain academic material and new information. For children to prepare for academic success, they need to abstract meaning from literature, texts, math, and science-related learning materials. Additional mega learning information will be covered in the upcoming publication, Teach Me How to Learn.  This document shows parents and educators the most effective ways to support children as they increase their ability to abstract information across academic areas.  

Readers need to: (1) know how to organize facts, (2) acquire and retain knowledge related to facts, ideas, details, and terms, and (3) unify these concepts in a concise conceptual way. Additionally, the reading process encourages students to learn logic and reasoning skills. Readers turn facts into knowledge by connecting layers of facts — versus merely memorizing facts. The facts turn into knowledge building and allow readers to tackle new reading experiences and acquire new vocabulary. Through intentional study across genre-types, readers make critical conceptual connections.

To fill this gap, we connect content to determine how facts and information fit in the world around us. The Reading to Learn planner uses textual attributes to show how knowledge acquisition builds as readers develop big thinking conceptual ideas.

Readers are encouraged to discover how people, places, things, and language all come together through the study of genres. As students read more and more books, they start to abstract meaning, draw conclusions, and generalize new information by connecting information from different genre-types. Once reading begins, facts, ideas, principles, systems, and cycles become essential learning tools that support knowledge building. This technique creates conceptual understanding and concurrently builds both background knowledge and vocabulary.


4. Communicate

After students observe, organize, process, and understand information, they need to demonstrate their mastery of the material. Effective communication involves using written, oral, or graphic skills to understand key concepts and apply them to different ideas or content areas.

At this stage in the reading process, readers successfully activate and use mega learning skills. Personalized libraries are organized by genre, and readers study a specific genre. Once reading begins, readers discover patterns from learning new words, terms, facts, ideas, principles, systems, and cycles.

These patterns then become essential learning tools that, in turn, support knowledge acquisition, conceptual understanding, and vocabulary. These trends and patterns generate an innate curiosity and sense of discovery for the continuous study of content.  When the foundational content areas begin to connect, we know that readers' mega learning skills are fully engaged.

The plan to read worksheets begins to fill-up with learned content, concepts, and connections from reading. In addition to the profound conversation, text organizer sheets and graphics communicate readers' knowledge attainment. At the Intellectual Bookshop, we measure student understanding through the discussions and conversations your young learners have about different topics and how they interrelate.

Also, somewhere within one of the subject areas lies a child's interest that may turn into a passion as the child matures. That particular passion can follow him or her beyond school life and, later on, become a child's lifework to change the world as an adult. Our job as parents and educators is to help find and nurture that passion or interest and help children discover their purpose in life.

Mega-learning skills provide children with the tools they need to gather concepts from different subjects. Learning to understand the relationship between other subject areas demonstrates academic growth and deeper breadth of knowledge.

Look for the upcoming publication, Teach Me How to Learn, for more ways to apply the mega-skills at all stages of the learning process – including the Intellectual Baby, the Intellectual Toddler, and the Intellectual Child stages.



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The Intellectual BookShop is an independent educational publisher and resource company committed to providing simple learning solutions for use at home or school.

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