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The World according to Welch Part 1. Reading 101 “There is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing.” -Clarence Day. How Do I Read This Thing?. “To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting .” -   Edmund Burke

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the world according to welch part 1

The World according to WelchPart 1

Reading 101

“There is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing.”-Clarence Day

how do i read this thing
How Do I Read This Thing?

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

-  Edmund Burke

Readers must understand the text on three levels:

  • Literal-Summarize the plot. Identify the protagonist, antagonist, and other characters. Describe the setting. Research the context. (Who is the author? When was the work written? Who is the intended audience?)
  • Figurative-Identify “big ideas”. Read between the lines (or under or beyond). What are the metaphors, motifs, idioms and other literary elements? What are their significance?
  • Interpretative-Connect the text to self, to another text, to the world. How does the text help you answer the questions: “Who am I?”, “ What is true about the world in which I live?”, and, best of all, “How can I use this knowledge to create something new or change the world or myself?”
  • Read. Reread.
  • Give yourself enough time to read thoroughly. Fast reading is not necessarily good reading. Stop and check yourself every once in awhile. Force yourself to mentally summarize the last page you read. Did you space out? Then reread the page.
  • Limit distractions. (Turn off the TV. Listen to music without words. Find a quiet place).
  • Remember that to read is an action verb, not a passive one. Read actively. Think. Do not skim.
  • Annotate and highlight significant parts of the work. Readers might want to note literal level information with one color highighter or marker, figurative level ideas with another, and write interpretive notes in the margins with another. Use a key if you are annotating with symbols.
  • Note difficult vocabulary rather than passing over it. Sound words out (-Yes, like in kindergarten. Hearing the word aloud might trigger a connection to meaning.) Look it up. Use context clues to ascertain meaning. Ask someone what it means.
  • Ask questions. If you do not understand a passage, talk about it.
  • When names of people and places are unfamiliar and therefore hard to remember, write them down in a chart. Sound them out. Ask questions about correct pronunciations and linguistics. This takes time, but is necessary if you are to glean meaning.
  • Read aloud to yourself or someone else if you find you are losing focus.
  • Talk about the books you read.
  • Remember that details matter. Getting a vague idea of “what the book is about” is not the same as reading a book for meaning. Do not skip over the literal level of understanding. If you do, you miss the whole story. How the big ideas are revealed matters as much as the ideas themselves.
  • Notice the writer’s craft as you read. How does he tell his story? What devices are particularly effective? Does the work meet the criteria of a great book? Why? This habit will make you a better writer as well as reader.
  • Practice reading. Like most activities in life, becoming a better reader takes practice.
  • Do not try out for the major league if you are only ready for the rec league. Read at a level with which you feel comfortable. (Your SRI score helps you find appropriate books.) Once you are batting over 300, try to step up your game and challenge yourself to read a more difficult text.