“The process of constructing meaning through the dynamic interaction among the reader's existing knowledge, the information suggested by the written language, and the context of the reading situation.”
One approach to explaining what reading is, might be to try and explain it as a short cut to a young child. (For older students improving their key skills, you could use the example of shorthand.) Each letter/word is a quick way to represent something, saving all the time it would take to draw things out each time! Children respond to common sense and doing things quicker will sound appealing to them. There are even some reading schemes around which focus on word recognition only, so that the child learns the representation for whole words only. This is not so good later on for decoding new words, but is useful for beginners to gain confidence.
Could you say reading is when you think and ask questions about what you are reading so that you recognize the words being used, understand what they mean, and how they are meant in the passage you're reading.
I am not sure why you need to use that definition of reading to any level student. My thoughts are that for second grade students an interest and understanding of reading comes through modeling and being read to. Our district holds an annual reading night where people from the community come in and read to groups of students. It never ceases to amaze me the excitement on kids faces listening to others read to them.
I share the misgivings of other editors in trying to explain such a verbose defintion to a second grade student. After all, how do we really define or quantify reading? I like the idea made in #3 about drawing the words. One element that a grade 2 student could easily understand would be how we decode the words - trying to get them to see individual words as pictures might be a step in the right direction.
I really can't imagine why this is the definition you must use to explain something as amazing as reading to a second-grader, but here goes. Reading is finding meaning in words based on what you already know, what is actually written, and what you can determine by what surrounds the word (context). In reality, the process of reading is an exploration and a journey. New ideas can be shared, stories can be told, and information can be transferred. Exploring each of these in a hands-on setting is much more effective--actually reading rather than just defining reading, as your question suggests.
Since there is a magic to reading that matches our joy at recognizing pictures, perhaps having pictures to correlate to words might offer the student assistance with reading. For, there is a secret code to reading, it seems; creating this opportunity for the children to "crack the code" is one of the essential steps.
Saying a word such as dog or bird and having the child draw what you have said demonstrates to them how ideas are conveyed in different ways. Reading is just another.
I think the key to your explanation is the the phrase "dynamic interaction." What sorts of dynamic interactions can you think of to use as an analogy for reading? I would begin by picking a topic that you might discuss with the second grader -- something simple like the weather outside or the time of year. For example, you could say, "What's the weather like today?" And, of course, your second grader will look outside and say, "It's sunny and hot," or "It's cold and rainy," etc.
The key is getting them to understand how they know this. They know this because they see the clues that lead them to these conclusions: The air fees hot or cold. They can see (or touch) the sunny sky or the raindrops. They understand these clues or "the information suggested by" the conditions outside, because of their "existing knowledge" and the "context of the situation."
So, showing them how what they have known and experienced before in real life helps them understand the new situation that comes up today is like understanding the new information that they find in a book or story can help you present this definition of reading to a second grader.
I have provided links to other definitions, in case they offer assistance. Good luck!
You can say that reading is when you look at the words on a page and understand what they are saying. You can compare it to looking at pictures and knowing what story the picture represents. For example, if you show them a picture of three little pigs and a wolf, they will recognize the story. Then you can show them the words and explain how this also tells the same story.
Reading is thinking about something brought to mind by the words and sentences of the text. It uses what you already know about that thing and brings in new ideas through someone's special pictures called words. Reading should make sense! So the reader should be able to understand what the writer (who was a person just like you or me) was trying to say to you. Use an example of something that wildly doesn't make sense to give an example. So that the child can identify the difference! Ask what are we talking about here? Making popcorn? No, so what does happen or what are they trying to show us?
You should define your terms, reduce complicated ones and take out unnecessary ones, simply as much as possible, and use examples. if you have any pictures and examples, that would go a long way in understanding something to a two-year old.
I personally believe that no attempts should be made to teach definition of things like reading to children in second grade. It is interesting that some of the most common ideas and activities in the world are most difficult to define. Children in second grade should learn what is reading by practicing reading, not by learning the definition of reading.
I am not sure if many grown up and educated people will also be able to define "reading" very easily. At least I will find it very difficult. Besides I am not sure that I will be able to come out with a definition that will be beyond criticism by other knowledgeable and capable people.