Reading is not the same activity each time you do it When I read my novel in bed before switching the light off at the end of the day I read ’passively’ - I start at the top of the page and read the story steadily at the same speed (I sometimes even get to the bottom of the page before I fall asleep!). This type of reading for pleasure is often called ‘extensive reading’ by teachers. What is important about this type of reading is that you choose the book and you don’t worry too much about difficult words you come across. Your extensive reading may be ‘readers’ (shorter simpler versions of real novels) or more authentic materials written for any reader. You may not ‘enjoy’ the reading at first but (rather like taking exercise) you will see the benefits in the long run.
But I actually wanted to think more about the other type of reading which you do academically, for study, and when you read for study you are an ACTIVE reader. There is nothing passive about reading for study! If you start at the first word and read steadily through the text it is unlikely that you are going to achieve your goals. What are your goals for reading the text? Are you sure you want to read the text at all? How do you know if it will be useful for you? What parts of the text will be useful? What point is the writer making? What notes will you make? What are your notes for? All these questions make you into an ACTIVE READER as you employ a variety of strategies to help you meet your goals.
Now that you have started to think carefully about being an active reader, the next thing to do is to read about particular reading strategies in my other articles:
- The QUASAR method of reading
- The SQ3R method
- Reading strategies - surveying, skimming and scanning
- Speed reading
There is also good information from the University of Reading about reading which you can find here.