With the pandemic keeping families at home the past couple of years, you might think they would be reading more. However, U.S. adults read 2 to 3 fewer books per year than they did between 2001 and 2016, according to a Gallup poll.
Another survey by Pew Research found that 23% of Americans didn’t read a single book in 2021, and that figure is even higher for those under age 50.
If you’re a nonreader, you could be missing out on more than a pleasant leisure experience. Literacy skills are fundamental to academic and professional success. Higher levels of reading also tend to encourage ethical behavior and community engagement.
You can turn things around. Learn how to read more and how to make reading more effective and enjoyable.
Tips for Reading More
As you might imagine, practice is essential. The more you read, the easier it will be to understand, interpret, and remember any text.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Pursue your passions. You’ll feel more motivated if you choose material that interests you. Maybe you love romance and drama. Maybe you’re more attracted to history and science. Explore different genres to see what excites you.
- Set specific goals. Give yourself a clear target to aim for each day. That might mean a set number of pages or a certain time period.
- Visit your library. If you’re short on funds, you still have access to an enormous collection. Use your library card to check out books and other media. Watch the calendar for literary events.
- Create a reading nook. Carve out a quiet spot at home to sit down with your favorite authors. You might prefer a blanket and sofa in your living room or a pillow to prop yourself up in bed.
- Carry supplies. Bring along interesting content wherever you go. You can read the latest novels on your phone or flip through a magazine while you’re waiting to pick your kids up after school.
Tips for Increasing Your Reading Comprehension
While you increase the volume of your reading, you can apply additional strategies to boost your progress.
Experiment with these methods:
- Take notes. Active engagement sharpens your focus and jogs your memory. Keep a notebook or write in the margins. Jot down your impressions and pick out lines that catch your attention.
- Highlight sparingly. On the other hand, studies show that highlighting is too passive to have much effect on learning. Spend your time on other techniques.
- Choose paper. Most research still finds that traditional books support higher quality reading than digital versions. You might want to stick with print for the content you care about the most.
- Slow down. When it comes to those long terms of agreement, you’re probably satisfied with skimming. Otherwise, try a more relaxed pace if you want to retain information.
- Stop to reflect. Take time to think about what you read. Read important passages multiple times and say them out loud. Search for reviews and criticism. Join a book club or online forum where you can share your perspective with others.
- Test yourself. One of the most powerful study tools is taking tests. Ask yourself questions to check your memory and understanding.
- Watch movies. Films and PBS miniseries based on books will be more fun when you’re already familiar with the original work. You’ll have deeper insights into the characters, and you can see which themes are emphasized and which plot lines are left out.
Strengthening your reading skills can help you move ahead at work and appreciate life more. You’ll also be more likely to pass along your love of books to your children.