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How to Read a Book for Class - Article by Emily, Teen Blogger

Pride and Prejudice - book coverIf you’re in an English class right now, chances are you are currently reading a book, a play, or a poem and there is also a good chance that you aren’t enjoying it. I don’t blame you. Sometimes the joy of reading is lessened by the fact that you’re being forced into it. However, there are ways to get around it so that you can effectively read and understand whatever has been assigned. Today, I give you a list of what to do and what not to do when reading for class.

DO… Read the book. I know this sounds obvious, but trust me on this one. SparkNotes is not going to get you an outstanding grade every time, unfortunately. Here’s my suggestion: read the book with the help of a summary site such as Sparknotes or my favourite, Shmoop. I recently had to read Pride and Prejudice for English, and after every chapter I read the Shmoop summary to be sure that I understood everything that happened. It also provided me with a nice, brief explanation so I could remember the overall message better.

DON’T… Read the book the night before you have a class discussion. You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t, at least) study for a test the night before, so I wouldn’t recommend trying to speed read a novel in the wee hours of the night. Your brain is not going to retain the information as well as it would if you read it during the day. If you have trouble managing your time effectively, see my next point.

DO… Make a schedule. I live on schedules and to-do lists. They are the only way that I can manage my time and not just binge watch Parks and Recreation. My suggestion is that you look at how many chapters the book has, then how much time you have to read the book, and create a schedule that works for you around your extracurricular activities. For example, if the book has ten chapters and you have two weeks, divide up how many chapters you read each night so you finish before the class discussion. If you have soccer on Tuesdays, read one chapter on Tuesday nights and two on Wednesdays. It’s an excellent way to make sure you get everything done of time.

DON’T… Watch the movie. Oftentimes the movie is not even close to the actual text and it might be difficult to follow what’s happening in your class if you don’t remember specific quotes. Like the summary sites, the movies are a great crutch to use to help solidify what you know, and if you’re a visual learner like me, it can be helpful to watch the whole text play out in front of you. However, the movie is a dramatization of the text and is usually a sensationalized version of what the author wrote.

Hopefully this is of help to you! If you’re reading a book for class that you aren’t enjoying very much, don’t worry about it! You’ll get it eventually, just do your best for now with the tools you have!

Good luck! 


Teen Blogger  

[Editor's Note: Great tips, Emily! We would also suggest checking out the websites on our English/Language Arts Homework Survivor page.]



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