Anna, I am not sure what grade level that you are addressing, but a lot of that seems to exceed "reading". Writing and reding is a form of communication and technically, the goal is simple, to communicate the author's thoughts to the reader. In that light, using your words, reading is about decoding and comprhension, but not about "thinking about the text". You may ecourage students to "think" about the text as an egaging exercise or to get them to test themselves but reading on its own is a skill.
And I only say that because, early on, you really need to focus on the reading part of reading
1. What is required to be good at understanding language? 2. What is necessary to be good at decoding text? 3. How do we help students ?think? about the text being read?
Understanding language is innate, practically everyone (excepting a serious handicap) can talk. They can follow a grammar and attach significance to words and use them in sentences (verbally). Reading however is not innate, it must be learned. And the first (big) task in reading, is to catch up and be on par with speaking and that is mostly mechanics, a lot of mechanics. One must form the mapping between the spoken word and the written word. Yes, there is grammar in there as well, but we already have basic grammar by the time we start to read. A couple punctuation characters and we are good to go because once we can read the words, they are generally in the same order as they are when we speak and they make sentences. Later, there is certainly some refinement and extension to that grammar (written form and grammar) but early on it is about learning to read like we know how to talk.
Decoding is really only applicable to that beginning phase, the phonics phase. Once we get the hang of word decoding we are in (my interpretation) the realm of "whole" reading. We are reading sentences. Words have no meaning unless they are in context. In fact, my own fundemental law of cummunication is "the purpose of communication is to convey context from one person to another" (actually, I use the word "entity" because soon this will occur between people and machines). The words used in the sentences have no meaning on their own. When we write we choose words that when taken together in a sentence convey our thoughts. It isn't easy and some are better and more practiced at choosing the right words. When we read we "make sense" of these sentence by choosing or creating the best context that would make sense to what we just read. This takes much practice and experience.
After decoding issues, this is where the BIG problem occurs. After you have gotten over the decoding stage, you must get to the actual "reading" stage where one is able to read sentences and as correctly as possible interpret (comprehend) what the author meant. Yes, after you have correctly interpretted what the AUTHOR meant, then you can start thinking about what that means to you. But first you must underestand what the author meant and that needs to come naturally and fluidly without a lot of thought. So I disagree that "thinking" about the text, as you put it, is part of "reading".
My point here is that reading is a skill to be developed and I see many kids that have made it past the decoing stage (sometimes barely) but are not reading (sentences). You listen to them and you know that something is not right. Even if they are not labored by the words (though many are) they are still not reading. I am not hearing the author when they read, I am hearing decoding. One big clue that the student is decoding rather than reading is the lack of intonation and rythem in the recital. As you read through a sentence the "whole" meaning should become apparent (usually) before you get to the end.
Decoding is at least easy to pinpoint and something you can focus on. It is much more difficult (impossible?) to focus on the "whole" part of reading. It relies on how fast the student is able to accumulate a vocabulary (via reading) and form various contexts on the fly in order to make sense of sentences (and paragraphs) being read. A big part of it is of course paractice, reading books. You get better at reading by reading. BUT, we know that does not work exactly that way. Unless you are actually practicing quality reading, you can read 8 hours a day and still not get it. And by quality I don't mean Scientific American instead of Oprah, those are equal as reading fodder in my mind. I mean quality in terms of that when you read something you WANT to comprehend it, not just get done with the chore.
I think the best way to focus on this (not all day) is to focus on sentence structure and to practice reading and building vocabulary. My son seems to have transitioned to whole reading very quickly, in fact too quickly, but I recognize details easily so I naturally focus him on phonics more when I think there is an imbalance. Actually, he is in a pretty good spot right now and it will mostly be practice from this point on and I have to push him at times to read more. For some reason, I read everything when I was young. I mean like every word on a box of cereal. I could not have a word within my visual range and not read it. And I have a lot more faith in the public school's treatment of grammar than with math (not withstanding Pam's special case). Reading (and comprehending) at a good clip is obviously critical in this modern age.