Much of the information we gain about the world comes from the written word. Reading is a complex process involving several skills used simultaneously. Reading also develops sub-skills, or skills that can be used outside of reading. Without such skills as memorisation, critical thinking and content organisation, you cannot fully comprehend written material. These are the sub-skills associated with reading that are used in many areas of life and can be developed through the act of reading itself.
Learning and Memory
One of the chief reading skills is the ability to learn. Learning is the ability to remember information after it is encountered and then reproduce it accurately. Reading forces you to practice the skill of learning consistently as you encounter new information and must remember the sequence of events and the definitions of words.
Readers improve as they encounter more and more reading content because new material increases the reader's vocabulary. You must come to terms with the author by looking at the definitions of his key vocabulary words and by paying attention to exactly how he uses the words. Reading is a great way to increase your command of the language because you not only encounter new words all the time, but you can see how they are used naturally in writing.
Regardless of the type of writing, every author is making an argument of some kind. Identifying and understanding the author's argument is an essential reading skill. Determine the premise of the argument and then look at the supporting evidence offered by the author. Trace the argument to learn how the author arrives at his conclusions.
Your job as the reader is to understand what the author is saying, but also to make a judgment about his conclusions. Reading must not be a passive process where you take everything the author tells you as the truth. You must consider information you have learnt outside of the present reading material and relate it to the author's arguments. Questioning conclusions and analysing arguments is a critical reading skill.
Organising and Categorizing Content
The skill of organising reading content helps you to understand it better. Start by figuring out what kind of writing the author is doing, whether it is practical or theoretical, for example. Then look over the contents to see how it is organised and the overall message of the work. Look at the title to get an indication of the content's purpose. Taking these actions during your reading will develop your organisation skills.
- "How To Read A Book;" Mortimer Adler; 1940
- Audiblox: Foundational Reading Skills
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