On the Gileskirk curriculum discussion board this past week, a dear, faithful mom asked for suggestions on "speed reading" programs. Apparently, her children were beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed with all the books they had in their "must read" and "assigned-to-read" stacks. I jumped into the discussion with both hands and feet. For whatever it is worth, here is what I wrote:
Of course, I do realize that reading for information sometimes requires skimming and surveying, but I never, ever encourage "speed reading." In fact, one of the books I often recommend to my students is How to Read Slowly by James Sire.
I do this for pretty much the same reason that I don't much care for "speed eating." Food is too wonderful a gift to scarf down. Fast food ought to be reserved for desultory moments like those spent on long distance drives down the interstate. Likewise, reading is too delightful to gobble down words and paragraphs, ideas and images all in a rush.
My recommendation: skim only when studying for your drivers permit or when you're making sure the warranty on your refrigerator is still in effect or when you absolutely, positively have to get that last chapter under your belt before you have to teach Quantum Physics in the morning (yep, the old homeschooling discipline of staying one chapter ahead of the kids).
Otherwise, relish your reading--even if it means going a lot slower and getting a lot less done. Make note of the melody of the phrases. Appreciate the architecture of the page. Close your eyes at the end of each chapter, or better, at the end of each page, and let the joy of discovery soak right through your skin and down to your bones.