There is a dramatic difference between Reading and Reading Comprehension. Reading is a physical manifestation that occurs when eyes move across a page of text in mechanical motion that mimics the motion of our mouths when eating an ear of corn. Sorry for the “tasteless” comparison. Reading Comprehension occurs when one gains information as a result of the physical motion of the eyes across lines of text. How one turns reading into reading comprehension requires thought and action; it does not happen automatically.
So, with this in mind, here are five tips for improving reading comprehension:
- Begin With a Survey of the Material. Don’t just open a book or website and read. Start by scanning the material to give you a baseline of information. You can think of this as being akin to building the frame of a house. Once you have the frame, it is easier to attach the walls.
- Involve Your Five Senses. You use your five senses to learn about the world around you. You should also use them to assimilate information found in textbooks and on computers. Think about what something would feel like, look like, sound like, smell like or taste like. Moreover, pause for a moment to engage the senses. In other words, you must employ an active process to move information out of a textbook and computer and into long-term memory.
- Care. Find a reason to care about what you are reading. If you don’t care about something, you are much less likely to recall it later. It doesn’t matter if you make it up; just find a reason to care. Perhaps you can empathize with a character, or despise a character. Maybe you have visited the area you are reading about. Or, maybe you have always wanted to. Maybe, you are repulsed by something a character has done (Iago, Henry V!) or exhilarated! In any case, find something within the material you are reading to care about.
- Have an Opinion. If you have an opinion about something, you are much more likely to learn it and remember it. If you don’t have an opinion, borrow one!
- Discuss. The dinner table is a great place to discuss the material you are reading. So are the hallways of your school. So is the pavement under your feet as you walk home. Anyplace, anywhere and with anyone – discuss the material. The more time you spend doing this, the more you will remember.
Use these five tips every day with everything you read.
If you do, your memory and enjoyment of your reading material will increase dramatically!