Making connections are central to understanding text. Although teachers frequently choose connections as a reading goal, major changes don't seem to happen. Let's consider why students are often unable to make connections, thus clarifying text, even after a year of instruction. My hypothesis is the instruction does not delineate or make perfectly clear, the definition of Connections. It is not easy to understand a concept that is ambiguously taught.
Consider the student that connects two characters based on the fact that their shirts are the same color. This seems ridiculous, yet it makes perfect sense to the student. The solution to this dilemma is to make the definition comprehensible.
Connections are accurately made when themes are taught and understood. A theme is a central topic of a text. The most common contemporary understanding of a theme is an idea or point that is central to a story which can often be summed up in a single word, (e.g. love, death, betrayal, perseverance, courage, trust, loneliness, etc.). Along with plot, character, setting, and style, theme is considered one of the components of fiction.
After reading or telling a story, my question to the class always is, "Why did the author write this book?' The answer to this question teases out the theme.
It should be noted non-fiction books do not have a theme. Rather they have a main idea. Connections can be made if the main ideas are similar.