Why are some readers better than others?

Understanding the how is a vital part of mastering any skill. Reading is no different. Most good readers learn this (probably from a book they read).
Do you ever wonder how some people are just better readers?

It’s like they began reading with the back of their baby bottles! Could there be a secret to get better at reading? Maybe good readers have understood something about reading. Good readers approach reading in their own unique ways. Their relationship with language and the written word shows an appreciation for what reading truly bestows upon a reader- creativity, knowledge and awareness. Stories create worlds of context, they create layers of nuanced understanding that a good reader knows is the heart of truly immersing into a written world.

Understanding the how is a vital part of mastering any skill. Reading is no different. Most good readers learn this (probably from a book they read). With that in mind-

How does the brain read?

Inside most brains, the process of reading and comprehension goes something like this:

1. Our eyes see written symbols and send them to the brain through signals.
2. The brain decodes these symbols, by associating it with letters and words learned previously.
3. The brain then decodes the grammar and puts the words into context.

4. Finally, the brain comprehends of the sentences, constructing meaning.

Beyond the Basics

Of course, just knowing how the brain reads isn’t enough. So what else do better readers do differently? It helps to have a robust vocabulary and be familiar with the different kinds of grammar structures. But is focusing on that the best way to become a good reader?

What are the approaches that good readers take that make them better at reading?

1. They Practice.

Reading is a skill, like playing the piano or batting. The only way to train the brain to perform this process faster, sharper ad better, is to practice. And practice even more. And then some more.

How did Virat Kohli become such a good batsman?

Learn how and why to make reading a habit here!

2. They make the right choices

Given that learning a skill, the reader’s current skill level is an important consideration. When Virat Kohli was just starting to learn batting, he may have practiced with easier bowling deliveries. And perhaps it would have helped if he played with friends in a non-competitive (fun!) environment.

Similarly, excellent readers understand their reading levels and start their reading journeys accordingly. While readers should focus on books at their reading level, it is also important to read books slightly higher than their current skill level. This allows them to practice jumping over the ‘reader-writer gap’ in order to level up their reading skills.

For this purpose, books arranged in reading progression ladder are an excellent choice to practice with. A planned reading list helps maintain consistency and gradually advances the reader to higher levels.

3. It’s easier to improve when you’re excited

Good readers know to choose books that excite them. This way, they read for longer stretches of time. When the developing brain resists the new process, complaints follow. It is the excitement of the story keeps the reader pushing forward. As it repeats the process over and over, the brain gets better at decoding symbols to construct meaning.

4. More than Words

Learning a language isn’t all ABCs and vocabulary. Reading builds an intelligent mind, not just a literate one. Comprehension, humor, speech, verbal expression– mastering a language strengthens crucial life skills that can significantly affect a growing mind, how one moves and operates in the world. Four main skills that good reading practice builds include-

  1. Listening
  2. Speaking
  3. Reading 
  4. Writing

These four skills must develop simultaneously. It is critical to design curriculum language, prepare for classrooms and teach in a way that inspires an understanding of reading that goes beyond school subjects. Instead, impart a skill that not only follows, but elevates a reader’s journey through life. 

The benefits of reading and learning languages are rarely limited to books. What the brain absorbs through its journey with language and the written word, often has a real impact in the world around us, with the potential to change lives.

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