Reading, for many students, is often seen as a mundane obligation—a hurdle to overcome in their educational journey. But what if we could transform reading into an exciting, intellectually aggressive pursuit? That’s precisely what active reading accomplishes. It’s not just about absorbing words; it’s about engaging with them critically and creatively.
Setting the Stage: Know Your Purpose
The first step in active reading is understanding why your student is reading a particular text. Like a member of SEAL Team Six, they need to know their objective. Are they reading to understand a complex theory, find inspiration, empathize with a character, or grasp a new perspective? This intentionality changes the entire dynamic of reading. It’s no longer about passively receiving information; it’s about actively seeking it.
Diving In: Strategic and Aggressive Reading
Once the mission is clear, the real action begins. This is where your student shifts from a passive reader to an active one. Encourage them to interrogate the text:
- Question the Author’s Intent: What is the author really trying to convey? Why are they saying it this way?
- Personal Connection: How does this information resonate with what they already know or believe?
- Critical Analysis: Does the argument or story hold up? Where does it falter?
- Predictive Thinking: Where is the author going with this? Can your student anticipate the conclusion or next argument?
Conquering the Text: Making It Your Own
The most crucial part of active reading is what your student does with the information. This isn’t about memorizing facts or quotes; it’s about integrating and synthesizing this new knowledge.
- Note-Taking: Encourage your student to use a note-taking technique to write down key points, but more importantly, their reactions to these points. This could be in the form of annotations, summaries, or illustrative diagrams.
- Making Connections: How does what they’re reading apply to other subjects, their own life, or the world at large? Can they draw parallels or notice contradictions?
- Creative Engagement: Urge them to use metaphors, analogies, and even draw pictures to visualize concepts. This not only aids in retention but deepens understanding.
Empowering Your Student
Active reading turns the solitary act of reading into an interactive, intellectual conquest. It’s about your student coming to a text, seeing its depths and breadths, and conquering its challenges, emerging more knowledgeable and empowered. With active reading, every book, article, or paper becomes an opportunity for growth, a terrain for intellectual triumph.
As a parent, you play a crucial role in fostering this mindset. Encourage your student to choose books that challenge and interest them, even outside their academic requirements. Discuss what they read at home. Make reading an active family activity where everyone shares and debates ideas from their respective books.
Your student’s journey from passive to active reader might just be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with learning.
By Robert Brundage
Robert is a tutor and Creative Content Manager at Revolution Prep. Off-duty, he enjoys being silly with his daughter, trying out new recipes, and playing board games with his wife and friends.