Inferencing: Read Between the Lines

As an all-knowing-teenager, I was an "expert" on subtle social cues and certain I was interpreting their implied meanings correctly. ROFL. Yeah, maybe that's why I was frequently teased about being gullible. While now I continue to try to pick up all the social hints, I'm sure a lot still gets passed me. Inferencing is a skill I'll be working on indefinitely.

Types of Inferences

Now there are two types of inferences, local and global (Dougherty, 2014).  Let's just focus on global in the context of a storybook. You make global inferences when you identify the cause of a character's feelings, and how this influences the story, and recognize how parts of a story influence the entire story (Dougherty, 2014).

Practice Inferencing

Children can begin learning how to make basic inferences with materials like storybooks. Making inferences requires a child to identify and connect pieces of a story that are not directly explained. Little Critter books can be a perfect way to work on more complex, global inferences but really you can use any story. Be a 'sports caster' and (out loud) explain your thinking and how you draw conclusions. This could be something like, "Little Critter is mad. I wonder why he's mad. Oh, I remember he was mad because he couldn't find his baseball mitt. I wonder if he'll be happy when he finds it."

Social Inferencing

Making inferences in social interactions can be pretty tough. We all have those awkward, social oops stories. What's a situation where an opportunity to inference sailed over your head? (Was it because gullible was written on the ceiling in pink?).... I may have fallen for that one more than once....


Dougherty Stahl, K. A. (2014). Fostering inference generation With emergent and novice readers. Reading Teacher, 67(5), 384-388. doi:10.1002/trtr.1230

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