Learning to Read
How I Learned to Read Books
“Reading is so boring!” Or so I used to think.
I learned to read at a very young age. My mother used to read me stories every night before going to bed. I enjoyed it. I even read all the Bernstein Bears books after I learned to read on my own. It wasn't until around 4th grade that reading books and reading stories became extremely boring.
In school, we were forced to read well renowned books in the literature world such as The Red Badge of Courage. I actually hated this book as a kid. There were so many other stories that we had to read like that one and I couldn't stand it. Coincidentally, my reading comprehension skills were average. I wonder why...
As I continued my journey from the 4th grade until junior year in High School, my reading skills and comprehension skills plateaued and remained average at best. Reading had become a chore. I had to sit there and concentrate on all of those words on those endless pages. Reading a book seemed like an endless task. It felt like an eternity to finish reading one page. I hated it. I believe that it was my annoyance of reading that contributed to my mediocre reading and comprehension grades.
Reading books remained a big chore for me until I was a junior in High School. I was fortunate to have an English teacher that changed my life forever. He inspired me to read books. He taught me how to read. How did he do it? Well, he did a few little things that any teacher could do. It certainly didn't work with all the students in my class. But if it worked for me, I'm sure there are other students out there that would reap the same benefits.
Looking back on that class, I realized that I didn't know how to truly read until then. In this hub, I'm going to share with you what we did in this class that taught me how to read the right way. I went from an average student with basic reading skills, (a B or C in reading comprehension), to an A student who excelled in reading, writing, and vocabulary.
Reading Class Strategies
My English teacher broke down our literature class into three main areas: vocabulary, writing, and reading. Everyday we had to learn 5 new vocabulary words and we were quizzed on them. Think about it, five words a day is so easy. It took me 10 minutes to memorize them. These vocab words also showed up in the books we were reading. My teacher said that if you see a new vocabulary word five times in a book, you will permanently memorize that word. This memorizing strategy worked for me.
Then we had to write one paragraph every night about a particular topic. Each paragraph would be part of a larger paper that included a thesis. The class would analyze and correct our writings during class together. The teacher had an old school projector that he would show on the wall so we could all see the paragraphs that we had written. This writing strategy of breaking down a paper into smaller steps was effective and allowed me to concentrate on my writing skills without being overwhelmed.
And finally, we had to read a certain number of pages every night from a fictional work that he assigned. Here is the list of books that we read in my class: Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Hobbit. These books completely changed my opinion about reading.
In literature class the next day, we would take a vocabulary quiz, we would analyze our writing skills, and we would take a reading test. The reading test was based on a chapter in one of the books above. Usually just five questions on the content of the story.
At the end of class, my teacher conducted a reading activity in which he would read out loud to us. It was reminiscent of being read to as a child. It was still effective even for teenage students!
He would read out loud to us the books that we were assigned. He would read them out loud with passion and express the nuances of the words. It was kind of theatrical in nature. This brought the stories to life as I heard him read them to us. After he did this reading activity a few times, something just clicked within me. From that point on, I could not stop reading and I improved my reading comprehension skills dramatically. It was a way of challenging us to use our imaginations when we read. It was the most effective reading activity from my experience.
Another reason I improved my reading comprehension was because the literature that my teacher chose was much more imaginative and creative. I discovered that I could recreate images in my mind as I read the books. For those of you who need help with reading, this could be a very good reading comprehension strategy for those of you that need improvement.
I found myself craving to open a novel and read what was inside. The summer after my junior year I read 11 works of fiction! The greatest benefit of my literature class was that I became a reader for life.
If you're not reading anything interesting in school, but you want to improve your reading comprehension skills, I would recommend that you start by reading a book that was used as a basis for a movie. If you know the movie well, you can use those images from the film to help you begin using your imagination when you read. It's kind of like reenacting the movie in your mind as you read the book.
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What I Learned about Reading
Reading books opened up a whole new world to me. I learned that anything that you want to know about can be found in a book, (or the internet, but books came first). Anything that you want to learn how to do, can be found in a book and then put into practice in “real life.” Reading is a portal between the mind and matter. What I mean is that the mind intellectually learns and understands what is read, and matter is the tangible physical result of what you intellectually learned.
Learning to Read
Learning to read is one of the most important skills you can have. Without it, you'll miss so many opportunities in your professional and personal life. And besides, reading is pleasure.
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