If you have younger siblings, you might have heard them talk about Dr. Seuss’ birthday yesterday. Also known as Read Across America Day, this holiday aims to help children become more interested and proficient in reading (“Read Across America Day”). Regardless of how old you are, however, continuing to develop your interest and proficiency in reading is important. Whether you are hoping to increase your motivation to read for leisure or sharpen your skills when reading for class, try these tips:
- Find a quiet place. It can be difficult to focus when there are a lot of sounds and activity around you. Try to find a quiet place with a comfortable spot to sit so that you can understand what you read and enjoy it, too!
- Look for something intriguing. Before beginning to read, ask yourself: “What is striking or unique about this reading?” If the reading is a book, there might be an unusual design on the cover. Or, if the reading is a scholarly article, you might be familiar with some of the writer’s other works. Whatever it is that intrigues you, use it as a way to become excited about the reading and draw connections to different texts.
- Identify a few goals. When you read for class, your professor likely sets some goals for you: learn about a significant historical event, analyze a writer’s use of literary devices, or others. However, regardless of whether you are reading for class or leisure, you should have a few of your own goals in mind. Your goals could be to finish a book for class in a week, read a new genre for leisure, or anything else. Having your own goals will help you feel motivated to achieve them and, in turn, excited to begin reading!
- Focus on the main ideas. If you are having trouble understanding a reading, try to concentrate on only the main ideas at first. In particular, make sure to note if you notice any changes in these ideas. Once you believe that you have a better understanding of the main ideas, revisit the reading with an eye to the finer details. When combined with the main ideas determined earlier, these details can help you gain a better understanding of the reading as a whole.
- Define any unfamiliar terms. If you come across a word that you do not know when reading, do not skip over it. Instead, look it up in a dictionary or online. Learning the word’s meaning will improve not only your understanding of the reading but the strength of your vocabulary, as well!