Top 7 Ways to Engage in Nonfiction Reading
Attention high school students!
Revealed on this page...
Are you a student who struggles to understand what is going on in class, because you can't understand nonfiction writing? After spending hours reading an assignment, do you forget what you just read? You are not alone. I have tutored many high school students who struggle with the same issues.
If you want to succeed in life, you must be able to read nonfiction text. For example, getting a driver's license. High school students dream of driving themselves around without the need for a parent. If you can't read and understand nonfiction text, it will be hard to pass the written exam to get a driver's license. Reading nonfiction text also helps you to pass other tests such as the ACT, finals and scholarship applications.
If you can't understand assigned reading if you have tunnel vision when reading if you think you are stupid when reading nonfiction text if you have ever tried to build furniture you need to read this article.
How do you know if you are not engaged in reading a nonfiction text? Read on to find out.
It's not a race
Great readers follow several steps when reading and you can too. First, before reading anything, great readers will decide if the reading is for fun or an assignment. By deciding the purpose, great readers will determine the speed of their reading. Reading for fun can mean reading faster; while reading for an assignment will make the reader slow down and look for important clues.
Do you have tunnel vision?
Great readers look at everything on the page and decide if they need to read it for information. Struggling readers, on the other hand, just read what they feel is necessary and leave out the rest. Only looking at the bulk text is called having tunnel vision. Before you begin to read a nonfiction text, you should scan the reading for the following information:
"I just don't get it."
After you have scanned for the above items, now you can start asking yourself questions about it. For example, after looking at picture ask yourself "why is this important?" Turn headings and subheadings into questions. As you read, you can answer those questions to get a better understanding of the given information.
What if I don't use a textbook?
Let's say you are reading articles on the computer or nonfiction books from the library. You still apply the same strategies as you would with a textbook. There are still headings, subheadings, pictures, diagrams, graphs, bold-faced words, etc. Turn those items into questions. As you are reading, answer the questions to help with comprehension.
Getting a Speeding Ticket
If you speed past a word while reading, you struggle with reading nonfiction text. If you are reading a school textbook, the tested vocabulary words are in bold-faced print for you. However, I believe that you should be creating your own vocabulary words while you are reading.
Great readers not only figure out what the bold-faced words mean but other unknown words as well. How else are you going to understand the reading? Try these ways to figure out unknown words:
Increasing Memory and Recall
Great readers take notes on what they read, so they can remember the information better. Taking notes also helps when writing a report and completing assignments. You can take notes a couple of different ways, such as using a notebook, computer, or my favorite: Post-it notes. As you read a textbook, write your questions on Post-it notes and leave them in the book. Then when you find the information, write the answer on the same Post-it note.
Some struggling readers forget what they read shortly after reading it. Taking notes is crucial for remembering facts and important details in the reading. However, DON'T COPY WORD FOR WORD. Copying out of a book exactly is called plagiarizing and it is ILLEGAL.
Write 3-5 words about each detail to help you remember what you read. If you have a paper to write or an assignment to complete, paraphrase what your notes say. Paraphrasing is using your own words to say the same thing.
Don't Stop There
There is one last crucial step about reading nonfiction text. Review what you have learned several times to move the information from your short-term memory to long-term memory. The amount of review varies from person to person. Some people might get away with reviewing a couple of times a week, while others might need to review every other night.
How do you interact with nonfiction writing and reading? I would really like to know. Leave a comment below.
P.S. Here are some related blogs to help with nonfiction reading
Vocabulary Bad, No Vocabulary Good
How Schools are Getting Rid of Textbooks
My name is Stena Schmitt.