Thus, when we understand core historical ideas, we can begin to think historically.When we understand core scientific ideas, we can begin to think scientifically.
Our reading is further influenced by our purpose for reading and by the nature of the text itself.
For example, if we are reading for pure pleasure and personal amusement, it may not matter if we do not fully understand the text.
Furthermore, reflective readers read a textbook in biology differently from the way they read a textbook in history.
Having recognized this variability, we should also recognize that there are core reading tools and skills for reading any substantive text, some of which will be the focus of this and our next few our columns. Think about what adjustments you would make in your reading given the differing purposes of these writers: To read productively, your purpose in reading must take into account the author’s purpose in writing.
To read well requires one to develop one’s thinking about reading and, as a result, to learn how to engage in the process of what we call close reading.
Students not only need to learn how to determine whether a text is worth reading, but also how to take ownership of a text’s important ideas (when it contains them).
Considering the Author’s Purpose In addition to being clear about our own purpose in reading, we must also be clear about the author’s purpose in writing. For example, if you read a historical novel to learn history, you would do well to read further in history books and primary sources before you conclude that what you read in the historical novel was accurate.
Where fact and imagination are blended to achieve a novelist’s purpose, fact and imagination must be separated to achieve the reader’s pursuit of historical fact.
Skilled readers do not read blindly, but purposely. Their purpose, together with the nature of what they are reading, determines how they read.
They read in different ways in different situations for different purposes.