How to cultivate good reading habits By Abdulhafeez T. Oyewole
A good reading habit is not utopia. It is a habit that can be cultivated slowly but steadily within the proportional task of the eyes, the body and the brain. It is a dynamic shift from old way and manner which a reader approaches a reading text. It is a practice that a reader can imbibe while attempting to digest any material. It is a habit that shows and proves the goodness and greatness good reading materials prospect in a reader. A good reading habit brings the best in the reader, in terms of immediate assimilation and mastery of the literature or book he reads. Hence, if any reader is to imbibe good reading habits, there are certain hindrances that need to be eschewed.
One of such hindrances is the frequent movement of the head by the reader when reading a text. Some readers move their heads from left to right too frequently while reading, while others move theirs from the beginning of a line of a reading material till the end, and the process runs through the next line or lines as the case may be. This movement apart from straining the neck of the reader can hamper a long reading hours as there will evidently be discomfort in the reading; and once there is discomfort, comprehension which is the main goal of reading is defeated.
Similarly, a reader should avoid revisiting a portion of what has been read severally while in the middle of finishing up the material, as he may not gain much from the exercise. Instead, he should pay utmost attention to whatever is being read. By so doing, a lot of quality time and energy that may be needed in revisiting a text several times will be saved for other productive and time saving engagements.
Also, a reader who wants to cultivate a good reading habit should averse the habit of fixing his eyes on every word in a text he reads, as that act can slow down his reading pace. It is advisable for him to train his eyes to take in phrases rather than words. More so, he should train his eyes to accommodate and communicate as many words as possible on a line at the same time to the brain.
In addition, word by word reading of a text should be avoided. This is because of the fact that cultivating a good reading habit entails reading a text by a reader in units of thoughts, phrases, or/and clauses. Like fixation of eyes to every word in a text, reading and comprehension are also slow down when texts are read word by word.
Passive reading is another hindrance of good reading habit that needs to be tackled, if a reader wants to experience a smooth and good reading exercise. Good reading culture requires a reader to stay active in the reading process and thus, demands that he prior prepares for reading. If a reader fails to be actively involved in reading, he will not concentrate and if he does not concentrate, comprehension will be impossible. Hence, every reader must be prepared to read and be an active reader during reading.
A reader should also eschew pointing to words in the text he reads with fingers, biros, rulers, keys, sticks, pencils or other objects. He should instead train his eyes to pick words in a text without necessarily pointing or tracing the words in the text. In this way, he will be more on the alert to the text and comprehension therefore will be aided.
Another habit a reader should detach from while reading is vocalization. Some readers cannot read silently and some may not actually read the text of the material aloud but they make sounds which may not be understood while reading. This latter mannerism is called sub-vocalization. Hence, both vocalization and sub-vocalization are bad reading habits which should be avoided. This is because, reading is faster when done silently, while vocalization and sub-vocalization distract and waste time.
Factors affecting effective reading experience such as social-cultural and instructional factors also weigh down good reading habits and should be therefore tackled. Similarly, psychological factors such as emotional disturbance and mental imbalance to a greater extent disturb reading. For instance, there is no way a reader who is disturbed by strained relationships with people around him will read and comprehend what is being read effectively. Likewise, there is no way a reader who is obsessed by physiological factors such as sickness, poor reading postures, poor eyesight etc. will make quality meaning out of what is read and he will as well not be able to spend adequate time in reading.
While there is so much to read in all disciplines, employing the use of reading techniques such as skimming (-reading to identify the main points of a text or to identify the items that form the substance of a reading material), scanning (-opening pages of a text and quickly running the eyes through the contents like topics and headlines), normal reading (-reading at the pace of the individual reader) and study reading (-reading done for examination purpose and for knowledge and skills acquisition) will make the reader’s job less onerous. However, a good reading habit remains paying greatest attention to what is read. Consequently, to imbibe sustainable good reading habits, a reader needs to locate and read a summary sentence(s) or paragraph(s) if exists in the text he reads. He also needs to ask questions on what is being read as such act will aid comprehension. After completing the reading of the whole text, he needs to revise by looking over the notes to know the major views and ideas contained therein.
Oyewole writes from Iwo, Osun State Nigere.