From a young age, children learn that reading is the foundation of their future education. Since so much of school involves learning about new ideas by reading about them, it’s no surprise that reading ability is a key indicator of a child’s future success in school.

Whether you’re still learning to read, struggling with reading or already reading at an advanced level, you can always become a better reader. Let’s take a look at a few strategies used by those who have learned to become speed readers.

If you’ve never heard of speed reading, it’s a group of reading methods used to increase how quickly you can read. Many people have created speed reading training programs that they sell in the form of videos, books, computer programs and training seminars.

Speed reading was very popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Many people wanted to learn to read faster to catch up on books they had always wanted to read.

After a decline in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, speed reading is once again becoming more popular. Today, though, many people want to learn to read faster just to be able to keep up with the information overload that has come about in the Internet age.

Reading faster doesn’t necessarily make you a better reader, especially if you read faster but understand less of what you read. Some speed reading strategies, though, can make you a faster reader who still understands what you’ve read.

One basic strategy used by speed readers is to choose a comfortable place to read. Make sure you read in a comfortable position with plenty of light.

Get rid of distractions that prevent you from focusing. Little things like these can make your reading experience much more enjoyable.

Another strategy used by speed readers is called “chunking.” Chunking involves allowing your eyes to take in multiple words at a time — whole phrases or even short sentences — rather than just individual words.

Chunking allows your brain to use its incredible ability to recognize familiar patterns to increase both your reading speed and comprehension.

Some speed readers also use skimming as a technique to read faster when comprehension is not critical. For example, speed readers who skim Internet sites might skip over text that isn’t interesting or relevant in order to understand the basic message being communicated.

Skimming can be helpful when conducting research, especially to help determine whether particular texts are helpful or not. If you skim an article and decide it’s helpful, you should then reread the article more carefully to fully understand it.

As you read, do you hear the words being spoken in your head as if someone inside your head is reading to you? This phenomenon is called “subvocalization,” and it’s very common. Many speed readers learn to silence this “inside voice” to read faster.

So exactly how fast can speed readers read? In 1990, the Guinness Book of World Records listed Howard Stephen Berg as the Fastest Reader in the World based on his claims of reading upward of 80 pages or 25,000 words per minute. Of course, such speeds necessarily mean that only broad concepts and few details can be remembered.

The World Championship Speed Reading Competition insists on maintaining a reading comprehension level of at least 50 percent. Top contestants often read between 1,000 to 2,000 words per minute, while world champion Anne Jones read 4,700 words per minute with a 67 percent comprehension rate.

We hope that you want to become a better reader. Don’t get too caught up, though, in worrying about how fast you read. Part of the joy of reading is soaking up the author’s words and their meanings.

Many authors paint beautiful pictures with their words. If you read too fast, you might miss the subtle beauty that can be created with simple words on a printed page.

 

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    • Thanks for making our day with your comment, Jusin! We’re glad you like visiting Wonderopolis…and READING! :-)

  1. Hello, I am a very slow reader. Any tips for helping me to read faster. And right now I am reading The Lost Hero.

    • Hi, rosie aka hannah! You can find some great tips for learning to read faster by reading this Wonder of the Day! Just keep trying your best! We believe in you! :-)

    • That makes us very happy, Emily! We look forward to hearing from you and finding out all the great stuff you learn when you visit Wonderopolis! :-)

  2. Reading is everywhere on a stop sign (READ) books (read) carton of milk EXPIRATION DATE (READ) lots, lots of things you read :) :) well bye wonderopolis have a nice day

    • You’re right, nat19! We can read all types of WONDERful words all around us! Thanks for commenting today! :-)

  3. I don’t know what to say… that video was amazing!!! It doesn’t have anything to do with my guesses though. I LOVE reading. I’ve been caught reading late at night more times than I can keep track of. My favorite book is Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larson.

    HMMMMMM…. I am going to think hard about this one because I haven’t been getting them right lately….ice cream? or maybe the desert…. or the hottest tempature ever recorded. I can only narrow it down to those three. I am VERY anxious to see what tomorrow’s wonder really is!! :)

    -Meredith

    • We’re glad you liked the video for this Wonder, Meredith/MC! Your guesses for the next day’s Wonder have been AWESOME! Don’t worry if they have been exactly right…you were using your thinking skills and your imagination! That’s what WONDERing is all about! :-)

  4. I read wonderopolis almost every day. And every time I do I learn a new thing. So I have to thank wonderopolis.

    • We’d like to thank YOU, too, Sunny…thank you for being such a WONDERful friend and visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

  5. I love the DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) idea. The best way to improve reading skills, especially comprehension, is to develop the habit of pleasure reading. Designating a specific time is the only way to insure that it actually happens in this fast paced interconnected and wired world. Doing this with your children goes a long distance to insure a love of reading may continue as an adult habit.

    There are two tips from the post I’d like to add some clarification.

    The idea of “Chunking” – has been around for over a hundred years. Technically, the reader will have difficulty adjusting the natural flow of the eyes to make this happen. What usually happens for readers trying to apply this is that they get so caught up in thinking about what the eyes are doing mechanically, that comprehension suffers. Rather than trying to artificially “chunk,” the reader should look for “meaning chunks,” which focuses on meanings, thus comprehension. For example, “the red velvet floor length dress” is a meaningful group of words instead of the reader focusing on “red,” “velvet” “floor length” “dress.”

    The idea of eliminating “subvocalization” – is always talked about when considering speed reading. Yes, it limits our speed to the speed of our speech. But the reader doesn’t want their mind to go silent. A silent mind will not comprehend. What the reader wants to learn to do is to transform the subvocal process into an awakened mind response to the print. This requires a whole new approach to understanding comprehension. This is the part that nearly all speed reading programs fail.

    • Hi, Ed! Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis and for your comment! We agree that skills and comprehension grow as a person’s love of reading does! :-)

  6. hey I want to know how to read really hard words with some kind of strategy I am a super slow reader I need help please!!

    • Hi, Faith! Some of the strategies found in this Wonder that can make you a faster reader can also make you a better reader! Try finding a quiet, comfortable place to read where you won’t be distracted. Make sure there is plenty of light, too!

      Just keep trying and doing your best to learn those really hard words. They will become easier the more you read them! Your Wonderopolis friends believe in you! You can do it, Faith! :-)

  7. Hello Wonderopolis!

    Today, our class explored Wonderopolis again, and we really enjoyed learning about “How to Become a Better Reader!” We liked learning about speed reading, and we WONDERed about something. Students didn’t know if the speed reading competition meant reading out loud or in their head. Can you help us with this question? Thanks again for helping us wonder!!

    Team Unger

    • Hello, Team Unger! Thank you for exploring another past Wonder together today! We think it’s AWESOME that you enjoy learning in Wonderopolis!

      We’re pretty sure the competitors read in their heads and are given a certain amount of time to see how much they can read. Then, they are given a reading comprehension test (like some of us have taken before!) to see how much they remembered of what they read! Sometimes speed reading means you don’t get all the details from a large amount of text, so maybe they are tested on the details, too! :-)

  8. Hi!
    I love reading, so this wonder is perfect for me! I have never heard of the method of speed reading before, but it sounds really cool! I was wondering if your posture affects your reading stlye? I was also amazed to find out the fastest reader in the world can read 80 pages or 25,000 words per minute! WOW!
    Being a very fast reader can cost your a big pandamonium when you take a test on it.

    • How awesome, Sophia! We haven’t read the book, Wonder, yet, but we are looking forward to curling up with it over the holidays! We hear it’s just awesome! :)

  9. whoah this weblog is wonderful I love studying your
    posts. Keep up the great work! You understand,
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Have you ever wondered…

  • How can you become a better reader?
  • What is speed reading?
  • Who is the world’s fastest reader?

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Try It Out

Since May is Get Caught Reading Month, grab a book, get comfortable and rediscover how much fun it is to read! Encourage your friends and family to share the pleasure of reading with the important people in their lives. If you catch someone reading, feel free to do a dance and celebrate!

Speed reading strategies aren’t just about reading faster. Even if you’re a good reader right now, some speed reading strategies might make you a more efficient reader. Even good readers can become better readers!

Check out these speed reading strategies to see if you have any bad reading habits that might be reducing your reading efficiency. Do you see any strategies that might make you a better reader? Give a few of them a try and see if they help you become a better reader.

 

Still Wondering

Follow ReadWriteThink’s Make Time for Reading tip to develop a Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) time to read together as a family on a regular basis.

 

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