The Importance of Improving Your Reading Skills - Craft Your Content

The Importance of Improving Your Reading Skills

Have you ever thought about the benefits that come with improving your reading skills? Well, you can’t improve your reading skills without, you know, reading – a lot!

So how can you optimize your skills for faster reading, more efficiency, and more focus?

Let’s look at where it all begins and why it’s important.

Reading is Important. No. Really, it is.

Relatively all humans learn to talk before learning to read; however, reading and writing skills develop together.  As children, we’re all taught to read out loud. When you vocalize the words you read, they are remembered together with their meanings. It also builds concentration in young children.

But, as soon as we reach middle school, we’ve already learned how to read, and this is when most of our learning activity goes down dramatically.

We become dormant with bad to average reading skills.

What You Can Do to Improve Your Reading Skills

I’ve found that making time to read every day has helped substantially.

Before thinking about reading things you’re not interested in, it helps to read about things you do like.

Start off by thinking about topics you already know you are interested in. Perhaps you really like cooking, but haven’t thought to pick up a cookbook before. Or maybe you want to expand your knowledge in a certain arduous area at work.

The same applies to music, customer service, finances, cars, pottery, gardening, exercise, anything really! By kick-starting your endeavor this way, you will quickly be in a position to figure out exactly what sparks your reading interest and what doesn’t.

Then, read! Continue to read as much fun stuff as you can possibly consume.

You will notice yourself easing into things much quicker than you may think, getting more comfortable, and finally noticing yourself improve. Only later on, when you’ve got that down, pick a subject of which you have limited or no knowledge about, and start forcing yourself to read it.

Let me put it as straightforward as possible. I haven’t experienced reading outside the box to be an easy task – probably ever. But it has improved my abilities tremendously to read and write better. It’s a great way to  expand your knowledge in other areas of potential interest.

But it’s probably best not to  dive headfirst into it when you’re just starting out. This must be an interesting and fun learning experience, not a tedious one.

It’s best to get yourself into the habit of scheduled reading, too, rather than leaving it for when you think you might feel like it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come naturally to all of us often enough, and the habit certainly doesn’t create itself.

One awesome thing I must add is, when you do read, keep a dictionary handy. I used to look up every word I didn’t understand, but it took so much time and I ended up frustrated and demotivated altogether. If you’re reading a book that has a lot of repeatedly used words, it’s a good idea to look those up if you don’t know what they mean. Write them down! You can always go back to your own notes, instead of sifting through the dictionary again.

The Benefits of Improving Your Reading Skills

Reading builds knowledge and allows us to be the inquisitive knowledge seekers that we ought to be.

Not only does it help students tremendously when they need to study for tests and exams, but also it  improves writing skills. Reading well allows one to spend less time figuring out the words, and it increases speed and concentration.

You can improve your concentration with systematic breaks in between reading and by avoiding regression. Regression is a very bad habit, and we all do it.

Regression means reading the same text immediately after just reading it. Again and again. This slows down our reading activity and has the opposite effect of efficiency. Focus is essential, and this is where I will highlight, without going into detail again, the importance of reading when it’s quiet.

Because our brains are adaptable and capable of continuous development, it may even be possible for reading to increase one’s IQ.

Perhaps reading a lot and expanding our knowledge is the indirect result of an increased IQ. Who knows? When I was doing research, I thought, “It’s great to learn all this new stuff, but how about doing a little survey for fun?”

I asked ten adults between the ages of 23 and 31 how often they read, if they think they need to improve their reading skills, and why they believe they need to improve or not.

Because the answers were so different and interesting to read, I thought it would be awesome to share the responses individually instead of creating statistics. Here’s what they all had to say:

HOW OFTEN DO YOU READ DO YOU THINK YOU NEED TO IMPROVE ON YOUR READING SKILLS?

WHY OR WHY NOT?

Nadia (30) “Three times a week.” “Yes” “If I read out loud, it takes longer to understand what I’m reading. “
Ryno (26) “Two hours a day.” “Yes and No” “I can’t read fluently out loud, as I struggle to focus on the grammar. I read better when it’s softly to myself.”
Melissa (23) “Well, since I’m a student, it’s about four hours a day.” “Yes” “Because little reading means little knowledge.”
Mpumi (30) “Not often enough” “Definitely” “Reading helped me to learn English and improve my language skills, as well as expand my knowledge.”
Cameron (28) “Never.” “Yes” “You gain more general knowledge and keep your brain awake. It’s good for learning.”
Dwayne (27) “I read daily, mostly online news and blog articles.” “Yes” “I do think it’s important for me to improve my reading skills with regards to data absorbtion, learning to read completely instead of speed reading, as well as for increasing my vocabulary arsenal.”
Kyle (28) “I read every single day. I try to read 1-3 books at once based on my need for information or recreation.” “Yes” “It’s important to work on reading speed and comprehension. I can read about 400-800 wpm at 60-80% comprehension at this stage.”
Rayn (27) “I read every day.” “Yes” “There is always something new to learn, be it fiction or real-world stuff.  Reading stimulates the mind, and I think it makes you smarter.”
Johan (23) “Never” “Yes” “I don’t like reading, but it’s possibly important. It feels like a lot of work.”
Sammy (29) “I try my best to read 8 books a month. So far, I’ve accomplished that for six years religiously.” “Yes, one should always.” “You can’t read too much of one thing. It’s important to upload software to the brain at all times. More knowledge makes you question more things.”

It is evident that most people understand the importance of reading and improving their reading skills even if they do not read that often. It is clear to me that, unfortunately, a lot of people may often feel that it’s a tedious task or that they don’t have enough time in a day. I believe we can all find time in our day and must do so. Because reading is awesome!

Distractions, Distractions…

Here are some ideas to avoid distractions, as you work to develop your new reading routines and habits:

  • Reading when it’s quiet is essential, especially if you’re the kind of person that gets easily distracted.
  • Read without music or any other distracting sounds. If you must listen to something, make sure that it is instrumental or white noise, as the lyrics could compete in your brain for word-processing space. Classical music, movie soundtracks, and apps like Noisli (thanks, Ashley, for the suggestion in the Writers on Writing Facebook group!) work great for background.
  • Switch off your cellphone, or simply put it away to minimize the urge of checking messages. It happens to all of us.
  • I am no expert on the matter, but there’s plenty of evidence making the rounds on the benefits of meditation. Apparently, it’s a great way to relax the mind. Try the Headspace app or Lucent getting-started guide if you want to up your meditation game.

The act of reading itself  becomes a lot easier as you train yourself to read better and more efficiently, and eventually you’ll be able to sit on a noisy bus, able to read comfortably without being distracted.

What are your thoughts? How often do you read? What do you think about the importance of improving your reading skills?

About the Author Sherise Van Dyk

Sherise is a full-time virtual assistant, and currently, specializes in SEO, content creation & marketing, web research, and outreach. Sherise works and travels and in her free time she spends time in the gym, reads, writes and tries to visit more unsought after destinations on earth. For more of her work, you can find her here!

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