My good friend Mike over at the Masonic T-Shirts web site ask me an interesting question over the weekend, "Do you need to practice reading?" Upon first thought it seemed like a silly question. He had just started to read JRR Tolkien's, The Children of Húrin, a precursor to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mike had previously read through the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit quickly and without any problems. He conceded that it has been a few months since he last did any substantial reading. Eventually the conversation with Mike turned to speed reading. Of all the skills one person can learn I believe speed reading to be one of the most important.
Reading at a Slug's Pace
I'm one of those people who would read every single word. As a young lad my reading skills were sub par. I still remember my parents sending me to reading classes while in elementary school. Throughout high school and university I continued to read word for word. I'll never get any of that time spent plodding through books back. The worst part is that I couldn't remember half the stuff I read. Finally, about 8 years ago, I started to immerse myself in speed reading. After learning how to speed read, it was like night and day. I had significantly more time and I could actually remember what I was reading.
Why Not Teach This Stuff In School?
As a freshman in university I was required to take a writing comprehension course, but never anything to improve my reading or memory. I really don't understand why educational systems, at least in the United States, don't place a huge emphasis teaching faster and more comprehensive reading skills. Many educators point out the lack of writing skills found in university students. I whole heartily agree that writing comprehension is extremely important, but I would argue reading skills to be more important. Logic would dictate that great reader be at least a decent writer, correct?
Everyone Should Make the Investment
It's never too late to learn. If you get a chance invest some time into learning how to be a better reader. One excellent resource for speed reading is your local library. Search the library's catalog or ask one of the librarians if they have a speed reading course. If your local library doesn't have a speed reading course, encourage them to purchase one. It's should be a pretty straightforward justification.
Back to Mike's question, "do you need to practice reading?" Absolutely, I do believe reading needs to be practiced. As the the old cliche goes, "Use it or lose it!" More importantly, I think everyone should take the time to increase both their reading skills and memory. Time is the one of the few things we can't arbitrarily create. We're all on a clock that is ticking down. If you learn to read faster and with increased comprehension, you'll have more time for the other things in life. Investing into learning how to speed reading or a speed reading course is one of the most important investments anyone can make.