Jun 102012
 

Most of us have never been taught more than one way to read. What’s that, you say? Reading is reading, right? Wrong!

There are several ways to use our reading skills, and they should be directed by what our choice of reading session is about. Are you reading a novel or fiction short story? Are you reading something biographical? Or how about a textbook? And then there are instructional documents, and don’t forget the self-help genre.

If there were such an item as a “reading hat”, you would be correct to have a different hat for each one of these categories of text, and you would intentionally don the appropriate one to prepare for whatever you intend to absorb. This would signify that a different part of the brain is activated for each topical category.

Does this sound a bit strange? Am I making it sound like you need to approach reading the same way you would make a selection from your clothing wardrobe depending on the activity or event you are dressing for? Well, yes I am. Chapter 6 (Small Sips, Small Bites) advocates exactly this intentional strategy for properly preparing to glean as much from what you read as efficiently as possible. When we read a novel or any story that has a flowing narrative, we typically continue reading non-stop until our eyes are tired, maybe we start nodding off, or we realize our mind has started to wander and we aren’t paying attention to what we are reading. When we read a textbook or instruction manual, we need to concentrate and retain what is read so we try to remain as alert as possible because this type of reading is not for recreational purposes like a novel or short story might be. The same is true for a self-help book or article.

For these latter categories, the best strategy for retaining and benefiting from the information presented is to take in the content in smaller doses. Perhaps only one chapter per day is advisable, assuming the chapter isn’t too lengthy. This helps keep the level of concentration sharper, and gives one the opportunity to contemplate what was read for several hours before the next dose is consumed. And depending on the content or topic, rereading the chapter, or the entire book, is probably going to be very helpful. Repetition is beneficial for good reason in matters such as this. Practice applies to reading for increasing one’s knowledge and skill every bit much as any other activity we want to gain proficiency with.