Do you find that you forget what you have read shortly after reading? Most of us suffer from that problem, but there is a way around it. You can increase your reading comprehension and remember what you read. The information is in your brain, you simply have to know how to access it, and it’s simpler than you might think.
How to Increase Your Reading Comprehension
- Define your purpose for reading: Before you begin to read anything – books, reports, article… – ask yourself why you are reading the material. Are you reading because it is assigned reading for work or school? Are you reading because you want to master a topic of interest? Or are you reading because you want to be entertained? Having a clear purpose for reading means you have a reason so you are more likely to remember what you read.
- Define your expected outcome for reading: What do you expect to occur as a result of reading the material? Be clear about your expectations.
- Bring the information to life: While you are reading, what does the information remind you of? What do you already know about the topic? What visions are coming to mind as you read? How can you apply what you are reading, with your past experience and existing knowledge?
- Unlock the door to remembering and understanding more of what you read: The answer lies in asking yourself questions after you have finished reading. The questions you ask depend on what you are reading. You would ask different questions if you are reading novels than you would a report. Many novels can teach us important lessons so they have an important place on our reading list.
- Create a mind map of your reading material: If you want to remember what you have read, create a mind map using the questions below as a guide.
Questions to Ask to Activate Your Memory of What You Have Read
- What’s the purpose for reading?
- What’s the material about?
- What are some important themes?
- What are the key concepts?
- What do I already know about this topic?
- What does this remind me of?
- What past experiences have I had with this topic?
- How can I apply existing knowledge with past experiences to what I’m reading?
- How can I rearrange the concepts?
- How are the concepts related?
- Can I picture in my mind what I’m reading?
- What’s the value of this information?
- Are there any patterns?
- What clues can I find?
- What is being implied but not explicitly stated?
- What did I learn?
- How has my thinking changed?
- How can I apply what I’ve learned in new contexts?
I extracted these questions, from Mind Mapping for Kids by Toni Krasnic (SummaReview of Mind Mapping for Kids by Toni Krasnic), which I highly recommend. In the book, Krasnic also includes some great strategies for increasing your reading comprehension.
Case Study: How to Increase Reading Comprehension and Remember What You Read
Many who read The invisible Mentor Blog know that I am reading books by authors from around the word in preparation for my Virtual Literary World Tour. I have been reading up a storm and I am not close to achieving my reading goal yet. Every time I find some free time, I use it to read. As a result, I noticed that I had read over seven books that I had not written the summaries and reviews for – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, A Wrinkle in Time, Out Stealing Horses, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, The Giver trilogy (The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger), The Outsiders, and Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang.
This caused me great anxiety because the Virtual Literary World Tour is very important to me. When you think about it, that’s a lot of books I have not written the reviews for. My purpose for reading the books is the same for each of them, so I reminded myself before I started reading.
And the outcome I’m expecting is more knowledge and different ways of seeing the world. To move through the fear and anxiety I’m feeling, I tell myself that I have read the books so the information is in my brain, all I have to do is activate my memory to extract the information I require.
At the time, I had already extracted the questions from Mind Mapping for Kids that interest me, so all I had to do was look at them again. For me, it’s already natural to think of books that I am reminded of while reading and I always try to relate what I am reading to what I already know. For instance, as I was reading The Giver, I was reminded of A Wrinkle in Time, which I had read a few weeks before, Anthem (Review), Herland (Review), Fahrenheit 451 (Review) and Divergent (Review Book 1, Review Book 2). I reviewed the questions before I went to sleep and I was immediately bombarded with information.
The following day I was able to start writing the SummaReviews (hybrid book summaries/reviews). I realized that to increase reading comprehension, and remember more of what you read, you have to have a clear purpose for reading, have expectations for reading, and interact with the information, and the best way to do that is by answering questions. Going through this process of answering the questions, I was amazed by how much I remembered. The next time you have materials to read, ask yourself some of the questions, and you will be surprised by how much you remember, and your comprehension will also increase in the process.
What techniques do you use to increase your reading comprehension and remember more of what you read?