Do you get to the bottom of a page and realize you've been daydreaming? It happens to everybody at some point or another: you've got too little time or too little interest to spend another minute with that heap of pages. Fortunately, learning to read smartly and take good notes will make the reading a whole lot easier, faster, and much more fun.
Despite television, cell phones, and social media, traditional reading is still an important skill. Whether it is school textbooks, magazines, or regular books, people still read, though not as much as they used to. One reason that many people don't read much is that they don't read well. For them, it is slow, hard work and they don't remember as much as they should. Students, for example, may have to read something several times before they understand and remember what they read.
Apart from reading for knowledge, fun, passing of exams more importantly, I think it's a useful skill for anyone interested in personal self-development.
Think of the one book that has had the biggest impact on your life.
Now, imagine how your life would be different if you didn't read it.
No doubt, television, cell phones, and the Web are major contributors to the problem of bad reading culture, which will apparently get worse if we don't emphasize and improve reading instruction and skills.
Some of the blame can be placed on the fads in reading teaching, such as phonics and “whole language,” which sometimes are promoted by zealots who don't respect the need for both approaches. Much of the blame for poor reading skills can be laid at the feet of parents who set poor examples and, of course, on the youngsters who are too lazy to learn how to read well.
Here's how to read effectively:
Get off the computer, turn off the TV, and cut out the music. It's very difficult to read, especially if you're reading something difficult when your attention is divided.
*Know Your Purpose
Everyone should have a purpose for their reading and think about how that purpose is being fulfilled during the actual reading. This also saves time and effort because relevant items are most attended. Identifying the purpose should be easy if you freely choose what to read. Just ask yourself, “Why am I reading this?”
*Learn how to read without subvocalizing:
When it comes to reading, we are often limited by the time that it takes for our subconscious mind to pronounce the words on the page. We don't say them out loud, but our mind speaks them unconsciously: This is known as “subvocalizing.” The habit of speaking words as we read them is often so deeply embedded in our unconscious mind that the idea of breaking free of it seems impossible.
A great trick is to pick out any word in this text and look at it for a moment in total silence. There will still be a slight bit of sub-vocalization, but by merely observing words without the desire to pronounce them, the new habit will begin to form on its own.
After a little bit of practice, perhaps a few hundred words, you'll start to notice the difference between speaking the word unconsciously and simply allowing it to enter your mind.
*Skim first and then read closely.
If you're reading something difficult, don't worry too much about spoiling the ending for yourself. If you read a paragraph and have to start the paragraph over, consider skimming over the whole story, or flipping through the book somewhat to get a sense of the plot, the main characters, and the tone of the reading, so you'll know what to focus on as you read more closely.
*Picture what you're reading.
Think of yourself as a movie director and picture the action while you're reading it. Cast the movie with actors, if it helps, and really try to picture the events as realistically as possible. This can be a lot more fun, and it will help you remember and understand what you are reading a lot better.
*Use a Pointer, Indicator or Your Index Finger
Using a finger to guide yourself while reading is often considered to be reserved for children and then forgotten once they have the hang of reading. However, this trick comes in handy again while learning to speed read for a few key reasons.
*Look up any words, locations, or ideas you don't recognize.
You can use context clues to help you figure out things by yourself, but it's always a good idea to take a minute to learn any references you might not have gotten the first time. It'll make the reading much easier.
*Train Your Eyes to Minimize Movement
One of the biggest and easiest epiphanies in your journey to become a speed reader will be in recognizing how much your eyes move while you read. For the average person, their eyes cannot keep moving in a single, fluid line without needing to backtrack. If you begin to pay attention to your eyes, I can guarantee that you will start to notice just how often you move back, then forward, then back again.
*Mark important pages with post-it notes.
If you have a question later, it can help if you've got the page you want to talk about or ask a question about marked already, rather than having to spend ten minutes trying to remember where Polonius' big line was.
*Get together with friends or classmates and discuss the reading.
It's not cheating to discuss what you've read about before or after class. In fact, most teachers would probably be thrilled. Get your classmates reactions and compare them to your own. Again, try not to talk about whether or not it was "boring," but see if anyone has a good explanation of something you might've found difficult or confusing. Offer your own reading expertise to help your friends.
As with all worthy pursuits, reading is a skill that takes time to develop. The more you do it, the better you will become. I used to think that setting daily or yearly reading goals was silly. Reading shouldn’t be a race. But I’ve found that setting goals forces me to carve out more time for reading. And the more books I read, the better I get at reading them.