Speed Reading for Kids

Instructor: Eric Campos

Eric has tutored in English, writing, history, and other subjects.

Being able to read and process information rapidly will give you a major advantage in a world of rapid change. Read on for tips on how to develop your speed reading skills!

Applications of Speed Reading

Speed reading is invaluable both in the classroom and in everyday life. Speed reading, as it sounds, has two components. Obviously, the idea is that you read fast, swiftly looking over the text to pick out fine details of information. The second component is being able to retain crucial information needed to answer questions, discern meaning, and/or form an opinion based on the writing. Therefore, this isn't just about reading, but also identifying key aspects of a given text.

Timed Reading

To improve your speed reading, begin by selecting small to medium lengths of reading material to read. Then, set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Read as thoroughly as possible. When the timer goes off, stop reading and write down the main points of the passage. If it's a piece of fiction, describe the plotline and characters. On the other hand, if you're reading a news article or scholarly publication, write down the main focal points of the piece. The goal for this exercise is simply to see how much you can recall from the passage within a short timeframe. As you read, take advantage of your peripheral vision. In addition to reading fine details, scan the whole text both horizontally and vertically in order to see as many words as possible. This should help you piece together the narrative more quickly as opposed to only reading line after line. The additional exercises will build on this by having you focus on specific elements of the writing, but it's crucial to have the big picture in mind as you read.

The Finer Details

As you improve at quickly grasping the general content of the writing, it's time to focus your attention on specific details. Remember, most questions on exams and standardized tests will ask you questions that refer to things directly mentioned in the text. Giving the correct answer could be as simple as finding the section in the text where it is given. However, if you approach the text in a disorganized flurry, you may zip past answers and delay your response time. It's important that you approach the text looking to answer specific questions.

Before reading, have someone who has read the passage before write down specific questions pertaining to the text for you. You can also write down questions for yourself as well. It's always a good idea to look for the who, what, where, when, and how of a given piece. These will prepare you for almost any question you face.

Taking notes is another great way to help you recall important information. Whenever you come across numbers, names, or key details, simply write them down on a piece of paper. You can also elaborate on why they're important. For more tips on effective note-taking, look into our Taking Notes resource.

Again, be sure to time yourself as you read and answer the questions. If you really want to challenge yourself, read first and then answer the questions separately. To make this exercise fun, be sure to reward yourself as you start getting correct answers!

What's The Stance?

Some of the things you read will have a distinct opinion or agenda prevailing throughout the text. One of the most challenging aspects of speed reading is being able to pore through the passage quickly while identifying the author's views. Think of yourself as a detective: in order to determine the author's opinion in the short amount of time, you'll need to find clues! As you scan the passage, be sure to pick out indicators of opinion such as first person statements, explanations, or information used to support a claim.

Give yourself 3-5 minutes to read and then on a separate piece of paper, write down the author's objective. Write down what their argument was and include any supporting details you can remember. Comparing your answers with the passage again will help you continually improve.

Keep Practicing

Don't be discouraged if it takes time for you to master speed reading. This is a skill that needs constant practice to refine. To help you become more proficient in your speed reading and language arts skills, take advantage of's virtual library of English Courses. Our resources provide detailed transcripts, video lessons, and practice quizzes to maximize your learning experience!

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