How To Read A Text


Getting Ready:


·        Make sure your environment is conducive to reading – but not sleeping.


·        Keep a pencil or pen at hand for notes.


·        Keep a dictionary close by.


·        Explore the book – examine the cover, back cover, title page information, table of contents, editorial comments, textual note. 


·        Estimate how long it will take you to read the assignment based on the page numbers, the print size, etc. 


·        Give yourself enough time to read actively.


Active Reading:


·        Examine the reading assignment, notes and discussion questions.  Use these to focus your reading beforehand.  These notes can help orient you within the text and draw attention to ideas, characters, events or formal issues that are significant.


·        Read every word.


·        If you don’t know a word, underline or highlight it: look up the definition in the handy dictionary you keep with you and write a brief definition in the margin.  If you cannot find the meaning, raise a question about it.


·        Annotation:  use the margins of your text to point to significant passages.  Identify plot developments, introductions of characters, formal developments (like direct address to the reader, shifts in perspective, inset tales, change in chronological time, etc.)  Provide brief summary statements at the bottom of the page for ease in finding passages again.  Raise questions about the meaning of the text at any time.  Come back to these questions later and try to answer them. 


·        Running Index:  use the front or back pages to create an index of key characters, themes, terms, plot lines so that you can return to these passages when you need to discuss them.  For example, keep track of the pages on which the narrator for Roxana mentions her children or repentance.


·        Underlining:  underlining can be a valuable tool if you use it to highlight passages that are good for quotation or that give the reader essential information.  Do not underline everything!  Use these device sparingly for good effect.