Humans have been listening and speaking for tens of thousands of years, whereas reading and writing didn’t become common until the 19th and 20th centuries. That being said, literacy is not something that comes naturally—it is a skill that needs to be developed through explicit and systematic instruction. In schools, we are taught what to read, what to learn, but we are not taught how. This is why many people struggle with reading. There are proven methods that helps with reading. In this post, we will be covering all you need to know about reading, including the benefits of reading and how to read. Does this sound like something you need? Let’s begin with the benefits, shall we?
Benefits of Reading
Have you ever asked yourself the question? “Why should I read?” Guess what? It’s a valid question. Sometimes, we tend to make it seem like it’s a question that should never be asked. It’s almost as though you should know the importance of reading. However, the opposite is sometimes the case. We don’t know why we need to read, hence we struggle with doing it because we don’t know the need for it in the first place. It is popularly said that if the purpose of a thing is unknown, abuse is inevitable. I’d like to say, if the purpose of reading is unknown, then struggle and lack of motivation is inevitable.
Let’s take a look at 5 benefits of reading.
1. Reading Increases Knowledge
It is commonplace to know that reading increases your knowledge; another thing you need to know about reading, however, is that your earning power is tied to your learning power. With the technological advancement today, it has become crucial for everyone to keep learning in order to keep up with the changes and reading is one of the effective ways to learn.
Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to tackle any challenge you will ever face.
2. Reading Improves Literacy
Have you ever read a book where you came across an unfamiliar word?
Something amazing you need to know about reading is that books have the power to improve your vocabulary by introducing you to new words. The more you read, the more your vocabulary grows, along with your ability to effectively communicate. Additionally, reading improves writing skills by helping the reader understand and learn different writing styles.
3. Reading exercises the Brain
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Joseph Addison penned this quote roughly 300 years ago before modern science and research equipment could back up his claim. Today, however, scientific studies show that reading does make you smarter. Reading a novel, for example, increases blood flow and improves connectivity in the brain.
4. Reading Improves Concentration and the Ability to Focus
We can all agree that reading cannot happen without focus and in order to fully understand the story, we have to concentrate on each page that we read. In a world where gadgets are only getting faster and shortening our attention span, we need to constantly practice concentration and focus. Reading is one of the few activities that requires your undivided attention, therefore, improving your ability to concentrate.
5. Reading Improves Sleep
Sleep is important for good health. One of the ways to improve your sleep is by creating a bedtime routine that includes reading. By so doing, you can signal to your body that it is time to sleep.
Now, more than ever, we rely on increased screen time to get through the day. Therefore, by setting your phone aside and picking up a book, you are telling your brain that it is time to quiet down. Moreover, since reading helps you de-stress, doing so right before bed helps calm your mind and anxiety and improve the quality of sleep.
Will you start reading with a different mindset today? If yes, then it is important you answer the next question, how do I read? If you do not tackle this question, you might only get frustrated when you are not getting your desired result from reading.
Wrong Method of Reading
Am I reading right?
There are different methods people employ to read.
There is one I like to call the superfast method of reading. It’s a name I coined from an activity my siblings and I used to do when we were younger. We would gather around, lock our hands together and scream, “Superfast” in order to get the house tidied up fast in a little time, whenever we suspected someone was visiting or dad was returning from work.
Since it always worked out fine, we never bothered to clean up the house regularly; we would rather leave it to the last minute when there is an emergency that warrants it (that is, a visitor or dad returning from work). Crazy right? I actually did this as a kid.
There were two problems with this method, however, but we were too lazy to address them.
The first was that; there were times a visitor would come to the house and it would escape our notice or dad would return from work as a surprise (surprise ruined when he finds the house dirty; it would turn to flogging).
The second was that; in order for the cleaning to actually be “superfast”, we had to be complete, that is, my siblings and I, everyone had to be around. But what happens when one or two people are not around at the time of emergency? Now, what could have been done at the right time and would only need a little tidying at the time of emergency becomes a problem because of procrastination.
Unfortunately, this is what many of us do in relation to reading, especially pertaining to students. We leave our reading and studying till exams come knocking at the door. We are well aware that this method is not accurate but we are too lazy to address them.
However, It is important to address it because there are proven strategies and ways of reading that help.
How to Read: SUPERFAST Reading
Now, in contrast to the superfast reading several people employ to read, I coined another term, SUPERFAST reading, detailing the effective method people should read with instead. Would you like to know what they are? Let’s dive in!
S – Smart
U – Understand
P – Post
E – Exercise
R – Rapid
S – Statistical
T – Timely
Amongst the several things you need to know about reading, it is crucial for you to know that your reading must be smart. Yes, now what do I mean by that?
How do you dress when you are going for an interview? Do you dress shabbily or smartly? I remember going for an examination at a company. You should have seen me. The way I dressed and conducted myself shocked me. It was with such smartness that if it weren’t an interview, I wouldn’t have approached it like that. This shouldn’t be! We should learn to approach the issues in our daily life with smartness and the same applies to reading. It is a habit that can be learned. It is not some inborn trait that if you didn’t possess, you’d be left devastated and miserable. Certainly not! As Jim Kwik says, the question to ask is not ‘Why are you smart?’ but ‘How are you smart?’
Here’s some basic tips for you. Whenever you want to read, do so in a good sitting position at a desk. Do not lie on the bed to read; you are sending the wrong signal to your brain by doing that. If possible, do not read in the bedroom or stay as far away as you can from the bed. Tidy up your desk and don’t clutter up books or unnecessary things on it. Clean your surroundings too; it does help. By doing all these, you are telling your brain that you are ready to read and it (that is, your brain) will be in agreement with you.
Going forward, will you approach your reading with a smart attitude?
If you are going to be a S.U.P.E.R.F.A.S.T. reader, that is, one that reads effectively, you are going to have to understand exactly what it means to read. Many are in a hurry to read that they lose the essence of reading in the first place. You think you know what it means to read but in reality, you don’t.
What does it mean to read?
To read is to comprehend. In simpler terms, Reading is Comprehension. If you say you have read, but you didn’t comprehend what you read, then you haven’t read or in most cases, you didn’t do it effectively. Reading without comprehension is like reading with your eyes closed. Mission impossible right? but in reality, that is what many of us do. We “cram” more than we “read” and have become comfortable with it. As a matter of fact, some of you might not take this post seriously because you’ve become so used to cramming that you don’t see the need for reading anymore.
What if I told you cramming is dangerous? Of course, it is dangerous to your mental health. Cramming is associated with emotional, mental and physical impairments that reduce the body’s ability to cope with its environment. It leads to many unwanted side effects including impaired mental function. It also makes you forgo sleep which is critical for academic success. Cramming might be working for you now, but I show you a better way, and it is learning to read effectively. There are advantages of reading once you’ve mastered the art and that is why I’m here. Let’s move on to the next letter, shall we?
Another important aspect you need to know about reading is post-reading. Post-reading simply means engaging in activities after reading that will make your reading effective.
How often do you stop at intervals when you are reading to review what you just read? How often do you employ active recall?
The two habits you want to begin include active recall and spaced repetition.
Active recall is a process through which you review the material and then immediately check to determine how much of it you remember. This process draws the distinction between simple recognition of the words and recollection (that is, understanding the words). It is easy to employ; all you have to do is read the material, then close the book and write down or recite everything you remember from what you just read, look at the material again and check how much you remember. Repeat this process multiple times.
Spaced repetition is simply giving intervals during reading to take a break. For example, if you want to read for 2 hours straight, read for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break before continuing. I’m not asking you to sleep or chat during the break, instead, take the time to employ active recall during the breaks. You can see the two goes hand in hand. The example above is actually a technique called the Pomodoro technique. It reduces the forgetting curve which states that we tend to forget 50% of what we read within an hour and an average of 70% within 24 hours.
Post-reading activity is very important if you want to remember all that you read. Cramming is in direct opposition to the way our brains work. Why don’t you learn the way your brain functions and take control of it?
The importance of exercise to the brain cannot be overemphasized. Exercise has such amazing benefits to the body and brain that it must be done, no matter how difficult or tiring it may be. You have probably started and given up on exercise so many times but I’m here to encourage you to continue; even the Bible says that exercise profits a little.
There’s a direct correlation between exercise and brain function. Regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. As your body moves, your brain grooves. Regular exercise also helps you sleep smarter, and good sleep is essential to the proper functioning of the brain.
Take care of your brain by making exercise a habit. It can be 5-10 minutes daily. So there you have it guys. Exercise is one of the ways to become a S.U.P.E.R.F.A.S.T reader. Will you begin exercising today?
Have you ever wondered why you sleep off or are easily distracted during a class?
The average person speaks at one hundred and fifty words per minute (150WPM). If one speaks even slower than this, we tend to get distracted because our brain is capable of acquiring and comprehending over four hundred words per minute (400WPM). Just imagine, that the remaining two hundred and fifty words per minute (250WPM) will be looking for something else to do. If you aren’t mentally engaged in that class or conversation, you will most likely get bored or sleep off.
Unfortunately, many of us read at this same rate. We either move our lips while reading or talk with an inner voice (sub-vocalize). This makes us slow readers.
Here are two habits to stop👇
1. Sub-vocalizing: You have to stop the voice in your head reading with you as you read. We learnt this in elementary school when we were told to read aloud and, after some time, read quietly; so we talk as we read but do it silently until it became part of us.
2. Regression: Regression is simply going back and re-reading. There are two types: Backward saccades and mind wandering. Regression is no more a habit than bending down to pick up a dropped wallet. You bend down and pick up the wallet only because you previously dropped it. Rather than trying to break the “habit” of bending down, you would try to stop dropping the wallet in the first place. To stop regressing, you must stop your reason for doing it, and what causes regression is reading without comprehension. Regression will stop automatically when you conceptually understand the ideas and make meaningful connections to the information you are reading.
Here’s a habit to begin
Use a Visual Pacer: Your hand, a pen or a blank white card, when used to increase your reading speed, are called visual pacers. Pacers force the eyes to move in a directed pattern down the page to help you get up to speed. You were probably told as a child not to use your finger to point to words you’re reading. The traditional belief is that doing so will slow down your reading, but as children know naturally, using your finger as a guide keeps your eyes focused and prevents them from wandering. Using pacers actually increases your reading speed because your eyes is attracted to motion.
It’s one thing to have this as head knowledge, it’s another to practice it. Begin to practice it from today and watch your reading speed increase.
If reading isn’t fun, then you’re not doing it right. Today, I’ll be talking about how you can make reading fun.
A friend told me something quite hilarious. He said he’d like to read less and still pass. Funny right? I thought about it and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t possible.
What were you expecting?
What is possible, however, is reading in a flow state when you wouldn’t know how much time has passed.
I’m sure there have been times when you were so completely caught up in what you were doing that everything else disappeared and it just felt like the most natural thing you’ve ever done. Time probably melted away for you during these experiences that you didn’t know when afternoon became night, or forgot to have your meals. This experience is Flow. It is a state in which you become so engrossed in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.
Because a flow state boosts your productivity, you are going to want to get yourself into it (especially in reading) as often as possible.
Here are some steps to take:
1. Eliminate Distraction: Do not sit in front of the TV or close to your bed when you want to read; you are not going to get into a flow state that way. Did I forget to mention your phone😏? It can take you up to 20 minutes to reconnect with what you’re doing after you’ve been distracted from doing it. So put everything else aside and concentrate completely on what you’re doing.
2. Give yourself enough time: Do not rush yourself. You are not going to get into a flow state if you schedule only 30 minutes or less for reading.
3. Do something you love: I know reading is not one of your favorites things to do but you can start with a subject of interest to you.
4. Have clear goals: Once you’ve carved out time, give yourself a clear purpose for how you are going to use that time. If you set a mission for yourself at the outset, and it is something you are excited about achieving, you’re likely to find yourself deeply immersed in that mission.
5. Challenge yourself….a little: Challenge yourself just a little. If you do something that you find extremely difficult, you’re likely to become frustrated, and that frustration is going to keep flow from happening. But if you do something that you love that also has a moderate level of challenge to it, this level of challenge is likely to keep the task exciting for you and therefore engage you deeply.
Another thing you need to know about reading to make you an effective reader is that you must be active in reading. The time for reading is not the time to initiate sleep.
As you might have guessed by now, reading is much more than scrolling through the pages of your book. It is not passive, rather it is active.
If there’s any tip to give to help you be active in reading, it is to ask questions. Learn to ask questions.
As a student, learn to ask questions in class. If you don’t understand something, ask. If you do understand, ask to confirm and add to what you already know. I’m emphasizing this because I’ve discovered students always have reasons to give as to why they couldn’t ask questions in class and yet, are in confusion.
Will you start asking questions today?
Another vital aspect you need to know about reading is Statistical Reading. The way you read statistical subjects is quite different from the way you would read novels or other text-written subjects.
Someone asked me a question. Will I study maths with the same methods you’ve been giving? At first, I replied with an immediate Yes, of course, but after taking time to reflect and think, I knew I would have to give a more practical answer to that question.
Of course, the principles I’ve mentioned before can be applied to the study of maths and other calculative subjects like computers, etc. For example, you’d have to be smart, engage in post-reading activities, make it fun for yourself, etc. but let’s be more specific about it.
I am of the opinion that you cannot successfully study or “read” maths without a notebook. If you are doing that, then you are just skimming. Learn to take notes. It forces your brain to be active and it is better to write it down than to type it.
Here are two tips to follow:
1. Be engaged in the calculation: Get a notebook and pen and solve. Re-solve the examples you have been taught in class. I know you think you know it but it’s okay to solve it again.
2. Do exercises: It’s not enough to go through the examples alone, either from a class or a textbook. Attempt exercises. Try to put what you have learnt to practice. There are exercises everywhere—from textbooks to the internet. Have fun trying them out.
Conclusively, if you want to be a maths genius, you must be ready to study hard. Put an end to these negative talks about maths being difficult, talk positively and get to work.
If you’re not going to schedule “reading time” in your timetable, then you’re never going to be a SUPERFAST reader. How many of you even have a personal timetable? I’m sure I’m shaking some tables now. Many times we complain about not doing the things we want to do and not keeping to time, but how will you when you don’t have time scheduled to anything? Anything goes for you. You’re always free. Draft a personal timetable and do everything within your power to follow it, and please make it flexible.
Write down your goals and attach deadlines to them. You need to understand that if you will achieve anything in life, you must be timely about it. You don’t have eternity to do what you have and must do.
Please schedule your reading time. It can be 10 minutes a day or more.
There you have it guys! We have covered a great portion of the things you need to know about reading. If you read through this to the end, congratulations, you are on your way to becoming a SUPERFAST reader.