Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Reading, an Introduction

    We need to get some things straight as far as reading is concerned. Are you ready?

    First, (and this is the most important point): The only way to become a better reader is to read. Regularly. Daily, even. And ideally, for at least 30 to 60 minutes a day. That's right, I said it. If you want to become a better reader, you have to get into the reading habit. There is no magic strategy I can share with you to make you a better reader. Reading is a skill, a craft, and to some, it is an art. As with any other skill, you have to practice it for quite a long time if you hope to become any good.

    Now that we have that out of the way, there are some things I can share with you to help you improve your reading skills. And I plan to do just that, so settle down. We'll get there.

    The next thing you need to know is this: For the purpose of improving your reading ability, I'm going to break the reading process down into its main components and skills so you can learn and practice them in small, manageable chunks. However, these skills are all part of the grand process that is reading, and none of them work or exist in a vacuum. So, even though I'm going to talk a lot about individual reading skills, it is not enough just to learn each skill. You must apply them, together, in the act of regular, repeated reading experiences. (Are you sensing the theme here, yet?)

    Third: Being a reader can and will change your life. I could go on, but none of it will really matter. Come back and tell me I'm wrong after you've become a reader. I dare you.

    Fourth: Reading is not brain surgery. Or rocket science. Or (insert challenging career of your choice here.) Reading is something that nearly everyone can do, and do well. You might be in my reading class because you took a test and the college told you that you do not yet possess the ability to read at the college level. And this may be true. You may have struggled with reading for your entire academic career. But here's the good news: A) You are not alone. Between a quarter to a third of today's college students enter their freshman year reading below grade level. B) You can become a skilled, college-level reader if you are willing to put in the effort. It can happen and it will happen if you stick with me and follow my advice. Trust me, I'm a professional.

    Finally: Good readers write, and good writers read. First, the two skills are interrelated and thus growth in one supports growth in the other. Second, the only natural product of reading exists in your head in the form of thoughts, and since I'm not a mind reader, I'm going to have to ask you to write your thoughts down while reading if I'm going to be any use to you at all. So, students, if you're enrolled in my reading class, get ready--there will be writing. Lots of it. Every day. (And vice versa for anyone in my writing classes.)



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