Ways of Reading

In preparation for a 9th grade student training, I was thinking how reading sources for a research paper is different than reading a novel for pleasure. Because of the recent arctic vortex, the student training was cancelled. However, the different ways of reading are still a relevant topic to consider.


Maybe you read differently, but when reading a novel, I read every word; I don’t skim or read a bit here and there. The art of the novel includes the way the author uses words to enhance plot, dialogue, and description. If you don’t read every word, you may miss the elegance of novelistic writing. Sometimes the subtle bias or plot twist is hidden in a turn of a few words.

Reading sources for a research paper is much different than reading a novel. It is not necessary and often too time consuming, to read every word. To get the general point of an article, you can read the abstract or the first few paragraphs, or the executive summary. Read conclusions. Skim. Ask yourself questions while reading that fit your thesis statement or outline. Does this article or study mesh with your research paper? This way of focused reading for research is a useful tool to add to a student’s critical thinking toolbox.

“The middle of the road is where the white line is, and that’s the worst place to drive.” – Robert Frost


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