The row of procedures that help to get the slightest idea and analyze the author’s approach and the message he brings through the artistic text is called critical reading strategies. First, let us think it over, what the reading is for? What intentions should it call in our minds?
The culture of reading creates a world outlook and makes people fancy the pictures of life and its facets. Just like Alice did being in Wonderland and asserting all her dos and dons while speaking with the characters. As I see, now we ought to differentiate main steps and principles while preparing for reading.
First, we need to preview the text, its parts, remarks of an author, epilogue, and prologue (if they appear in a book). I think it is a great mistake for students when they start reading from the very beginning without analyzing the structure of the book. It always takes from five to ten minutes.
Second, there should be contextual analysis, when students place the heroes and the events or materials described in the frames of a definite epoch, year, or event. This helps to realize the motives of an author and his role in the text. “To read critically, you need to contextualize, to recognize the differences between your contemporary values and attitudes and those represented in the text.” (salisbury.edu)
Third, we are to question ourselves, pointing out the differences of the events, circumstances, or deeds that main heroes do. Why he did like that or were there any other way out for him? – questions like these can make us stimulate our own opinion on artistic texts. Our psychological background tends us to re-think the material. It is the way to reflect your position to the current situation in the text.
Finally, students should be aware of outlining and summing up. This strategy is a sort of mnemonic method, when we place ideas on their “shelves” in our minds in short or long perspective depending on the importance of the text, as I see. It is one more reminder to assist in criticizing the sequence of the circumstances in which the main characters get into.
As for me, one of the principles of gaining the right idea of the text is making no regressions (returning on the previous read page). When we analyze we do not read in a word-by-word manner. We are to give good commands of our time. The other thing is the speed of our reading. Try to improve your peripheral eyesight; it helps in focusing on the whole page at once. There are too many techniques of fast reading.
To conclude, one should always remember the purpose of the reading, main ideas within the text, and evaluation of the author’s life and motivation when writing the books. Students usually do not observe the reading process as vital, but it proves its main function of developing the culture of reading independently from the sort of book you are fond of. Book is the well of wisdom and as German people say: “A man is a result of all books he read during the life.”
The Bedford Introduction to Literature 8th Ed + Literature Aloud + LiterActive, Michael Meyer 8-th Edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.