Read Like a Reader; Read Like a Writer

by Steve Peha

What do readers do when they read? Sounds like a strange question, doesn't it? After all, readers just read, don't they? Sort of. Actually, the whole question turns on what you think reading is.

Your mind is very active while you process text. You may think you're just saying words to yourself and hearing them somewhere inside your head, but chances are there's more going on — a lot more. Becoming aware of what your mind is doing when you read helps you become a better reader.

Nobody knows for sure what goes on in the mind of a reader. Frankly, there's no way to tell and no two readers read exactly the same way. So, we have to make up a theory about it. I like to think that there are two different ways to read:

These certainly aren't the only ways to read. But I think they represent interesting and valuable ways of thinking about a text. The point of all this is to help us enjoy reading more by making it a more active and interactive process. When we read actively, we don't just wait for the meaning to come to us, we go after it — aggressively. We look deeply into the text hunting in certain specific ways searching for clues as to what the writer is trying to say. When we read interactively, we ask questions about the text and our reactions to it, and we use the answers we to develop a sense of how the text works. It's as if we start a conversation between the writer, the writing, and our self.

For another look at the process of reading like a writer, here's a link to a handout from the University of North Carolina.

Peha, Steve. "Read Like a Reader; Read Like a Writer." Teaching That Makes Sense, 2003, Accessed 22 July 2019.