Reading Textbooks

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Look over the book, section, or chapter to acquaint yourself with the topic you will be reading. Read bold face type, topic sentences, summary paragraphs, and/or review questions to give yourself an idea of the contents of the assignment. Note highlighted vocabulary words that are new to you. Note visuals like pictures, graphs, and maps.


While you are surveying ask yourself, “What will I be reading about in this assignment?” “What do I already know about this topic?”  “How does it fit in with what we have been studying?” Further questioning will help you link information in the assignment to what you already know. An easy way to create questions that guide your reading is to turn the bold face type in section headings into questions. Remind yourself that each section is created to set apart a separate idea of importance. Create a question for each section that will guide you to that big idea and its supporting data. This will keep you from getting lost in details. At the end of your surveying and questioning you will have a good understanding of the reading selection and what you will be learning from it.


Read for ideas, especially to answer the questions you have created. Read one section at a time without stopping, highlighting, underlining, or taking notes and then go to the next step. How large a section you read at one time will depend on your memory and the density of the text. It may be one paragraph or more than a page.

Recite and Record

Mentally answer the questions you have asked. What is the big idea in this section? Is the author addressing specific questions?  What supporting information is relevant to the big idea? Now mark only the words or phrases that will best remind you of the big idea and the supporting information. You may also write in the margins. (Whenever you put ideas into your own words, memory is stronger.) Go on to the next section and repeat the process of reading, reciting (talking to yourself), and marking or writing the words that will remind you of the important information. Continue reading, reciting, and recording until you have finished the assignment.


After you have finished the assigned reading, go over your markings in the book to get a comprehensive grasp of the full assignment. If there are review questions answer them. Finally, close your book and recall the important ideas in the reading selection.