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8.7: Conclusion: Critical Reading

Thinking about reading as a process, rather than a single activity, can be a large adjustment to make. It can feel cumbersome to review a text multiple times, with a different purpose in mind each time. It may not align to your image of reading something cover-to-cover once, putting it down, and moving on.

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Using the reading process is similar to acquiring any new skill.  Think about when you first learned to hit a softball, or play piano, or even tie your shoes.  The first few times you do it, it’s clunky, awkward, and uncomfortable.  Then you experience a success (you connect with the ball! you play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!” your shoes stay on your feet!) and things start to click.  Gradually, the actions required become second nature.

Though it may not feel like it at first, the reading process will also soon become second nature, and make you feel good when you see it working.

It’s important to allow yourself that time to feel uncomfortable.  It’s equally important to celebrate the small successes and the large ones, as they happen. Consider the following encouragements to help you master college-level reading.

  • Find a good reading space.  Make it a treat to visit this place with your reading material.  Bring a drink you enjoy, find a comfortable place to sit, and make sure the lighting is just right.
  • Set times just to read. Try to set aside time to read every day. Even if it just starts as ten minutes on a lunch break, twenty minutes on the bus, and fifteen minutes before bed at night, that’s suddenly forty-five minutes that day you’ve spent reading.  You can even turn this into a little game with yourself. Phone apps like the ones recommended in this article can help make this fun.
  • Reward your milestones.  Allow yourself a treat when you stick to your daily reading time goals, when you finish a complex reading, or you turn in an assignment that reflects your reading comprehension.  Plan out the rewards ahead of time, so you know what you’re working towards!
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