There are two ways to read a book: for pleasure or for learning. You can read a book one timethrough and still experience pleasure. However, you shouldn't necessarily approach academic readingthe same way. In order to read and comprehend a book or article for school, you need to bemuch more intentional and strategic.
Understand Genres and Themes
In most reading tests, the student is asked to read a passage and predict what might happennext. Prediction is a common reading comprehension strategy. The purpose for this strategyis to make sure you're able to infer information from the clues in the text.
Here's an passage to clarify this point:
【Clara gripped the handle of the heavy glass pitcher and lifted it from the refrigerator shelf. Shedidn't understand why her mother thought she was too young to pour her own juice. As she backedaway carefully, the rubber seal of the refrigerator door caught the lip of the glass pitcher, whichcaused the slippery handle to slip from her hand. As she watch the pitcher crash into a thousandpieces, she saw the figure of her mother appear in the kitchen doorway.】
What do you think will happen next? We could guess that Clara's mother reacts angrily, or wemight guess that the mother bursts into laughter. Either answer would be sufficient, since we have solittle information to go on.
But if I told you that this passage was an excerpt from a thriller, that fact might impact your answer.Similarly, if I told you this passage came from a comedy, you'd make a very different prediction.
It is important to know something about the type of text you're reading, whether it is anonfiction or a work of fiction. Understanding the genre of a book helps you make predictionsabout the action—which helps you comprehend the action.
Any time you read for the sake of learning, you should be reading actively. To do this, you'llneed some extra tools. For example, you can use a pencil to make annotations in the margins ofyour text without doing any permanent damage to the text. Another good tool for active reading is apack of sticky notes. Use your notes to jot down thoughts, impressions, predictions, and questions asyou read.
A highlighter, on the other hand, is usually not as effective. Highlighting is a relativelypassive act when compared to note-taking. While it may seem like you are engaging with the textby highlighting it, you aren't necessarily doing so. However, highlighting during a first read can be agood way to mark passages that you want to revisit. But if a passage impresses you enough tohighlight it, you must indicate why it impresses you, whether on the first or second read.
Develop New Vocabulary
It's a no-brainer that you should take the time to identify and look up new and unfamiliar words as youread. But it's important to make a log book of those new words, and revisit them long afteryou've finished reading that book. The more we study a subject, the more it sinks in. Be sure tokeep a log book of new words and visit it often!
Analyze the Title (and Subtitles)
The title is often the last thing to be adjusted once a writer has finished writing. Therefore, itmay be a good idea to consider the title as a final step after reading. A writer will labor hard andlong on an article or book, and often the writer uses many of the same strategies that a good readeruses. Writers edit the text and identify themes, make predictions, and annotate. Many writers aresurprised by the twists and turns that come from the creative process.
Once a text is completed, the writer may reflect on the true message or purpose as a final step andcome up with a new title. This means you can use the title as a clue to help you understand themessage or purpose of your text, after you've had some time to soak it all in.