Setting Gears in Motion: Reading

Reading is an interesting subject. Some students love it while others truly despise it. Like math, some individuals possess strong reading skills while others fall behind rapidly. The problem with that is, most classes, if not ALL classes require some level of reading. Therefore, students who struggle with this skill find themselves falling behind in several subjects. Which can cause anxiety and lack of confidence. 

The good news is that reading is a skill that can be learned and developed. Much like most things in life, it just takes practice. Struggling in reading can feel crippling, so taking the necessary steps to enhance your skills at a young age sets you up for success in the future. And I promise, you will need to have some semblance of reading skills in your adulthood. 

Strategic Reading

Reading is similar to competitive sports. There is a strategy to it. Strategic reading requires comprehension, absorption, and retention. Comprehension means understanding what you have read. Absorption refers to finding some amount of joy from the reading. And retention requires the ability to memorize what you have read and recall it at later times. Once you have mastered these three elements of strategic reading, the rest comes easily. So make sure to pay attention to these strategies next time you pick up a book or news article. 

Inference vs. Fact

Many students struggle with understanding the facts in a reading as well as making inferences. These two things are vastly different. Facts are details in a book that are explicitly stated as true and important. Facts are not hard to find as they are often right in the reading. You don’t have to read between the lines to catch them. However, most students struggle with differentiating fact from opinion. 

Inferences differ from facts in that they are not implicit in the reading. Inferences require some level of critical thinking and measured prediction. An inference is a statement that can be concluded from the facts or moods of a text. For example, you can infer that a character will react badly to a certain circumstance if you have paid attention to the fact that they have poor impulse control and are emotionally immature. 

Finding the Main Idea

The main idea of any reading refers to the thesis, or the reason for reading what you have read. The main idea is often stated early in the text and referred back to several times throughout the reading. In most cases with nonfiction, the thesis or main idea is stated in the first paragraph. Or in some cases, the abstract. In fiction main ideas can be harder to spot but can be accurately guessed at if you study the number of times a particular thought was referenced. For instance, if the protagonist keeps referring to fate vs. destiny, this could be the main idea or thesis for the book. 

Vocabulary

Building an extensive vocabulary is critical, not only in life, but in reading as well. Especially when we are young, we underestimate how important it is in adulthood to have the necessary tools to communicate what you need to communicate and to understand what others have communicated to you. This requires an in-depth knowledge of words and their meanings. Lucky for us, a strong vocabulary is easy to build.

You can have words of the day emailed to you from Webster’s. You can read books that challenge you. You can even read the newspaper and look up unfamiliar words to learn the meaning. When you learn a new word, work it into everyday conversations with folks around you. This will help with retention.

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