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The Four Levels of Readings Every Student should Know about

March , 2014
Reading is a search for meaning, and this meaning can be found only through intelligent and mindful reading. In their classic book " How to Read A Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading " Van and Adler provide some invaluable tips to help readers develop good intelligent reading habits. They particularly talked about four types of readings which I want to share with you here and also highly recommend that you read the entire book. It is definitely a wonderful work.

The four types of readings Van and Adler covered in this book are :

Elementary reading
Reading at this level is simple and easy. It does not involve any sophisticated means of comprehending the text and making meaning out of it. This reading level corresponds to that of grade seven and eighth.

Inspectional reading
This kind of reading is the beginning of a mindful reading. The reader here is like a detective, he skims, pre-reads, examines the title page and table of content and reads the first two chapters before reading the whole book superficially for the gist of it. As Van and Adler argues this superficial reading is essential for enjoying more difficult works .

Analytical reading
Analytical reading requires a higher degree of attentiveness to the details of the book, the structure of the text, and the message of the author. When you are reading analytically, you are actually evaluating how well the author presents his ideas and insights and compare it to similar works. The comprehension that stems out of this analytic reading allows the reader to provide a critical review of the book, express agreement or disagreement with the author's ideas and effectively judge the content of the work. "Reading a book analytically is chewing and digesting" (p.19).

Syntopical reading
In synoptical reading, you are reading a wide variety of works on the same topic with the purpose of constituting a general view or take on the subject under study.This kind of reading involves skills such as narrowing down the subject, inspecting material, and selecting a bibliography. Syntopical reading is what we do when we are working on a literature review for a research paper.

The sketch notes below from Sacha Chua summarizes the last three levels of readings.




how to read a book

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