In a piece (here) included in the The Herff Jones Achievement Series, the case is made for how a “broad academic knowledge base” leads to strong literacy development. To make the point, the following example is shared:
If a hunter with a shotgun says, “There’s a grouse across that field, maybe 100 yards away,” and his friend says, “Well, shoot,” what does the friend mean?
Unless you’ve hunted grouse before or talked extensively to someone who has, the meaning of the friend’s statement is ambiguous. Unless you know that shotguns aren’t very accurate at 100 yards — and that a grouse that has flown from its cover disappears very rapidly — you might think the friend is encouraging the hunter to fire his gun. In fact, he is expressing frustration.
Building a coherent body of knowledge is a big part of improving vocabulary and comprehension with students. Likewise, it is an important part of accessing the Common Core. You can watch Robert Pondiscio make a similar point here or Dr. Dan Willingham describe the importance of background knowledge here.