Although she has of course been making inferences based on what she's been reading for a while, my daughter took a leap forward in this behavior last week. This post is a spoiler if you haven't read Harry Potter 5, and you should stop reading here.
I read my daughter the part of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in which Harry and his friends have been captured in a mis-deed by Umbridge. Hermione tricks Umbridge into going somewhere with just Harry and Hermione, to check their progress on a "weapon" that they have allegedly been developing for Dumbledore. My daughter was eager to know where they were going, but we had to stop reading to eat dinner.
After dinner she was working on something else. She suddenly looked up and said: "Mommy, is Hermione taking Umbridge to Grawp?". While this wasn't technically correct it was pretty close, and I was proud of her for thinking of it.
What this means is that she continued silently working away at where Hermione might be taking Umbridge even after our reading session was over. This is one of my favorite things to do, too, and one of the reasons that I like to read mysteries before I go to sleep. When I turn off the light I speculate on what I think will happen next. I'm happy to see my daughter sharing in this delightful occupation.
I do sometimes actively encourage this behavior on a smaller scale when we are reading aloud. I'll stop and ask her what she thinks is going to happen next. I try not to do it too much because I don't want our read-aloud sessions to feel like work. But I'm glad to see her developing this skill naturally as we read more.
This is also an argument for reading longer and more complex books together, and taking frequent pauses to allow for reflection. And it's a validation for stopping at suspenseful points in a book when you do pause.
Oh, participating in my daughter's journey to literacy / love of books is just a joy. Thanks for reading! It is also a joy to be able to share these little milestones with people who appreciate them.