Ideas To Improve Nonfiction Reading

A good nonfiction reader will read with purpose and gain new knowledge.

Nonfiction text can be a challenge for many readers because it requires them to think about and learn new information. This takes time and can be difficult, especially if the information is completely new or uninteresting to the reader. However, with the right amount of focus and effort, anyone can improve his or her comprehension of nonfiction texts.

Access Background Knowledge

Background knowledge is all the things the reader already knows about the subject. To access this background knowledge, all the reader needs to do is think about the subject before he starts reading. A good reader will do this automatically. It is crucial for the nonfiction reader to connect new information with things he already knows. This will help the reader understand what he is reading now and remember it later.

Ask Questions

The purpose of nonfiction reading is to learn new information. Therefore, to start reading without a few specific questions in mind defeats the purpose. A good practice for novice nonfiction readers is to write down a few questions before beginning to read. Also, readers should be aware that new information almost always leads to new questions. Armed with these questions, the reader can read with purpose, which will lead to understanding.

Use Text Features

Nonfiction text often incorporates features such as headings, boldface and italic print, vocabulary words with definitions, maps, diagrams and pictures. These features help the reader by breaking down important information into easy-to-understand chunks. Readers who are having trouble understanding the text should take the time to look at these features to clarify things they don’t understand in the text.

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Pause and Think

Readers who rush through a passage hoping to get done quickly will miss or misunderstand a lot of information. The acquisition of any new knowledge, regardless of whether it is learned through reading, hearing, seeing or experiencing, requires time to reflect. This pause also offers a check for understanding. If the passage was unclear, a good reader will reread it before moving on to the next section. How often to pause depends on the individual reader and how well she is comprehending the text.

Write Notes

Writing down new information adds another level to the learning process. Like pausing and thinking, writing notes causes the brain to reflect on the information that was read. It has the added benefit of being there for later study if the reader does forget. When taking notes, readers should focus on the main ideas presented, and on answers to their original questions. Readers might also try alternatives to note-taking, such as drawing pictures or diagrams representing the new information.