Many students wonder what exactly they should read to improve their literacy and critical thinking skills. Although there is no set curriculum to increase these abilities, there are ways to help speed up the process.
Here are a few recommendations on what to read and how to read it during the summer:
1. Read the classics
“The classics” is another name for books that you typically read in English class. These works are good to read because they provide you a variety of subjects, styles, and time periods.
You may have received a list of college-bound books in your AP or IB English class. This list is a great place to start when determining what literary classics you should read. If you want a few recommendations right now, try Moby Dick or Wuthering Heights.
2. Read high-level news sources
Since reading is not limited to fiction, you should also become more experienced with high-level news sources. Sadly, not all news is written with the same quality, so some sources, while useful because they provide you with current events, do not stretch your reading habits to new depths.
The New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Economist all include great writing on a variety of news-worthy topics. Because they publish well-made content, however, they require subscriptions. Some provide limited online viewing if you do not subscribe, but why not just make the commitment!?
3. Read different genres
The first two parts of this list recommend that you read the classics and quality news. Even while following this advice, you should also strive to diversify your reading as much as possible. Read poetry, travel writing, science fiction, mysteries, memoirs, histories, and anything else.
The great part about reading is that you will improve your abilities regardless of genre, and by varying your reading, you will be familiar with many different styles and content. You will be a “renaissance reader.”
4. Read for quality, not quantity
Do not aim to read as many books as possible as quickly as possible. Speed reading is not the best method when trying to truly understand a piece of writing. You want the books and articles you read to really influence your thinking.
To prevent yourself from simply scanning texts, you should ask yourself questions about content before reading, during reading, and after reading. After all, the goal of reading is not simply to move from one word to the next; you want to be in a dialogue with the author.
One of the cornerstones of high school education, college admissions testing, and college studies is reading. Every day you read text, either on the Internet or in messages sent to family members or friends. The complexity of text varies, but the reading you do in academic pursuits will most definitely be more complicated than what you typically see on a day-to-day basis. It is important, therefore, that you have enough practice and experience with reading to increase your successes in class and on standardized tests.