How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Recently, my wife, Gail, and I had dinner with some close, neighborhood friends. As we always do with this group, we soon began discussing the books we were reading. A few minutes into the discussion, Gail asked, “So, how do each of you read a book? What is your practice?”

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

We then spent the next hour going around the table. Each person shared how they approached reading a book. I was fascinated by the variety and depth of the answers. I picked up several great tips.

When it came time for me to share, I ticked off three or four things I have found helpful. However, now that I have had a few days to think about it, I have come up with several additional items.

When I read a non-fiction book, I typically observe these ten practices:

  1. Don’t feel that you need to finish. Not to be cynical, but most books aren’t worth finishing. I read until I lose interest. Then I move onto the next book. This is the secret to reading more. I also listen carefully to what my friends recommend. If they suggest a book, I am more likely to like it—and finish it.
  2. Start with the author bio. Every book flows out of an author’s heart and mind. I want to know something about the person I am going to be spending the next several hours with. Usually, the bio in the book is enough, but often I will Google the author before I start reading.
  3. Read the table of contents. I learn best when I understand the context. I look at the contents just like I look at a map before I begin a journey. I want to know where we are starting, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. Note to authors: I especially like annotated tables of contents that give me more than just the chapter titles.
  4. Quickly scan the whole book. I like to do a quick “fly over” to sample the author’s writing. I notice how long the chapters are and how they are structured. I might read a few “pull quotes” or subheads. I note his use of lists, diagrams, and block quotes. I am trying to set my expectations for what is ahead.
  5. Highlight important passages. I cannot read a non-fiction book without a highlighter. (On the Kindle, I use the built-in highlighter function). I prefer yellow, though I have been known to use pink in a pinch. I highlight anything that resonates with me in some way. The better the book, the more I highlight. I keep lots of highlighters handy in my desk drawer and briefcase.
  6. Take notes in the front or the margins. I often take notes in the front of the book, so I have a convenient summary of what I have read. I also like to write in the margins. (My wife, Gail, has a written conversation with the author and fills the margins almost completely!) Interestingly, I rarely go back and re-read these notes. They simply help me think while I am reading.
  7. Use a set of note-taking symbols. I use the same set of symbols I use when taking notes:
    • If an item is particularly important or insightful, I put a star next to it.
    • If an item requires further research or resolution, I put a question mark next to it.
    • If an item requires an action on my part or follow-up, I put a ballot box (open square) next to it. When the item is completed, I check it off.
  8. Dog-ear pages you want to re-visit. I bookmark the really, really important passages by folding down the corner of the page. These are usually passages with a quote I want to use in my writing or speaking.
  9. Review the book and transfer actions to my to-do list. When I have finished with the book, I go back and do a quick scan. As I mentioned above, I don’t pay much attention to my notes—unless they have one of the three key symbols or the page is dog-eared. If there is an action I need to take, I put it on my to-do list with a reference to the book title and the page.
  10. Share the book’s message. As we say on Thomas Nelson’s site, “great books are contagious.” They are meant to be shared. I blog about them, teach them to others, and buy multiple copies to give away to friends and colleagues. This is one way to ensure that the message lives on—and is passed on.

Please note: I don’t read fiction this way. I don’t highlight passages, and I rarely take notes. I read novels purely for pleasure.

What about you? Based on the survey data I have collected, I know that most of my readers are book lovers. As such, I’m sure you employ some disciplines in your reading that would benefit all of us.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use and believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Love podcasts? Check out this podcast in the form of a podcast episode on The Classroom Commute.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

If you think about it – most of what we read in life is nonfiction. We read street signs when we are driving, we read recipes when we cook, we read manuals when we are trying to figure out why the heck the vacuum cleaner isn’t working. again!

Teaching students to read nonfiction texts effectively is a reading beast all on its own. There are a lot of moving parts: identifying text features and structure, using the glossary, referring to headings and sub-titles to know where you’re going to find the facts that you need, and much more!

Take reading that vacuum manual I mentioned a moment ago. You’re not going to take the time to read about how to change the bag in your vacuum if what you’re trying to do is figure out why it won’t suck up dirt and pet hair up properly. Instead, you’ll look at the table of contents to see where that issue will be addressed within the manual and cut right to the chase.

We read nonfiction differently than we read fiction texts, and because of that, we have to TEACH reading nonfiction differently.

Here are 5 ideas for teaching nonfiction reading to your students so that they can effectively learn the skill and apply it to their daily life.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Looking at a page in a nonfiction book will look vastly different than a page inside a fictional text. You’ll see bold words, headings, subheadings, fact boxes, and so on. We know that authors include these text features to draw attention to important facts. We want our students to be able to immediately find and use these text features to help them understand the text.

One of my most favorite ways to initially teach students to identify these text features is to have them go on a text feature scavenger hunt. (part of my nonfiction reading unit) After defining each type of text feature (bold words, charts, headings. etc. ) and showing several examples of each, I provide students with dozens of books and let them have-at-it!

They work in teams or partners to try to find as many different text features as they can in a specified amount of time. They can either use a checklist (great for younger readers) or even a more advanced recording sheet where they indicate not just the text feature they they have found, but what the texture feature teaches them.

After this initial activity, students can then continue identifying and recording text features that they find in their own independent reading books.

Another awesome activity (and my personal favorite!) that will help students to hone in on text features is to have them learn through a LINKtivity digital learning guide. (If you’re new to LINKtivities, you can read all about what makes them so awesome HERE!)

Inside the LINKtivity students watch a fun doodle-style video before exploring the different types of nonfiction text features. They also complete a simple flipbook that serves as a great reference for later!


How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Do fiction and nonfiction writing have anything in common?

After all, their goals are fundamentally different. One wants to entertain, the other one mainly educates.

But take a look at Hunter S. Thompson’s work and you will know better. Thompson was a master at crafting tight, compelling fiction, and he used these very same fiction techniques to become one of the most highly acclaimed and fascinating nonfiction writers in history.

How to write a nonfiction book using fiction techniques

There’s no doubt: If you want to hook your audience, some story techniques come in extremely handy. It’s basic human psychology.

Take a page from your favorite fiction writer and adopt these five nonfiction writing tips.

1. Tell a memorable story

Humans have been fascinated by stories since the dawn of time. At lunch, we tell our newest stories to our co-workers; at night, we tell fanciful tales to our kids and then consume suspense from our flatscreens.

We remember stories much better than abstract rules, formulas or concepts. Your post or essay will be stronger and more relatable if you include little examples, experiences and comparisons.

For example, instead of saying “Spinach is healthy,” you could tell a story about a runner who improved his performance by eating a lot of spinach. Just two or three additional sentences is often enough to help your words hit home for the reader.

2. Bait your audience

Great fiction grabs you right at the beginning and doesn’t let your attention go until the end. Why not do the same with your nonfiction?

If your article is online, it’s in direct competition with thousands of other articles; your reader can choose from all of them instantly, and mostly for free. She could also just close her browser and go watch TV. In today’s multimedia world, attention is the number one commodity.

Does your first sentence make the reader want to read the second? Does your second sentence evoke curiosity for the third? Here are a couple of options for beginnings that I found worked best for my blog:

One strategy is beginning with a little personal or historical story. Take a look at the storytelling tips above and make sure to always keep the reader wondering what’s next. Before he knows it, he will be halfway through your article.

You could also ask a question that moves your audience. If you write an article about how to save money, how about a start with “Isn’t it frustrating that at the end of any given month, there is no money left in your wallet?“ That’s how you put yourself in the reader’s shoes, to make her identify with you and your article.

You could start with an interesting or funny thought, too. When you’re writing about the phases of the moon, why not begin the post like this: “Did you know that on the moon, you would only weigh 16.5 percent of your weight on Earth?”

By using one of these strategies, you have a better chance of catching your reader’s attention — and keeping it.

3. Use emotional language

Bad nonfiction pieces are overly factual and prosaic. (Think of the last academic paper you read. Snooze!) They often employ a certain “code” of complex sentence structures and foreign words to make them seem more credible and expert-like.

The antidote: use more imagery, more emotion and more personality. Metaphors are also an interesting way to add some spice. Instead of writing “double-digit percent fluctuations,” write, “a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs.”

The less abstract your nouns, the better. Any noun of something you’re able to touch physically is better than something you can’t touch. Palpable words draw the reader into your text more effectively, so he experiences them instead of simply reading them.

Certain words like ”confession” or “magic” are emotionally charged power words that hit your audience strongly. They make them feel your content. Power words can evoke vibrant emotions, and emotion will keep the reader’s eyes glued to every single word of yours.

So read some Hemingway or Dickens, reconnect with the emotional side of your writing, and stir up your audience’s feelings!

4. Say it simply

Have you ever given up on an article or instruction manual because its wording frustrated you? If you have great content, don’t encrypt it. Provide even more value for your reader by cutting the content down into easily digestible bites.

Look at any post on The Write Life: The content is top-notch, but it’s all packed into short sentences and easily understandable vocabulary. Ideas are broken down into detail. You see short paragraphs and a lot of white space. All the components of tight, simple writing are right before your eyes.

Many great novels are written in a fairly simple style. They impress with story rather than with wording. Take any novel by Charles Bukowski: Do you think his prose would have the same effect if it used long-winded, multi-clause sentences and a jungle of technical terms? Rather than trying to make a sophisticated expression, Bukowski conveys emotion and character.

Say it as simply as possible, but make sure your idea comes across.

5. Surprise the reader

Good fiction is full of surprising twists, but nonfiction often reads predictably, which is to say, dull.

Do it better and include an unexpected twist or turn when you can. It will keep things interesting and fun for your audience. Why do we watch dramas and why do we like our gifts wrapped up? It’s for the kick of the surprise that awaits us.

Keep readers on their toes by asking them a question and answering it in a way they wouldn’t have expected. For example, if you are writing an article about robots, you could ask: Which famous person drew early plans for a robot?

(Answer: Leonardo da Vinci drew up plans for an armored humanoid machine in 1495.)

You could also make a statement and follow it up with a point that seems like a contradiction. Don’t forget to explain and reconcile your points. A surprising joke or a provocative comparison can keep the reader interested as well, provided it fits your style and the format of your writing. Be imaginative, just like a fiction writer.

Finally, how can you train yourself in the above techniques?

One way helps for sure: read a lot of great fiction. The storytellers’ styles and strategies will spill over into your unconscious, and before you know it, you’ll be a master at helping every reader fall in love with your writing.

What do you do to grab your reader’s interest? Share your secret weapons in the comments!

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

The rise of social media changed the way writers promote themselves. How to read non‐fiction books effectivelyWe’re seeing non-fiction and fiction books being promoted on all platforms. Some of these campaigns are truly successful in terms of creating awareness. Others fail. Effective marketing is what makes the difference.

You might be wondering: how do you effectively promote your book on social media platforms? You’re the writer, so you wrote it. Shouldn’t your publisher and marketing team take care of the rest? No. You must be involved in this process to make it successful. If you’re a self-published author, in particular, you’re the one responsible for all promotional activities.

We’ll give you 8 hints on how to develop an effective social media marketing campaign for your book.

1. Create Great Promotional Content

Most writers think that creating fan pages and interacting with the audience would be enough. It’s not enough. You have to be the one triggering that interaction, and you’ll do that with great promotional content published on a regular basis.

The problem with most professional writers is that they don’t know how to write content for marketing purposes. You just wrote a brilliant book, but you have no idea how to create buzz.

If you’re struggling with this part of the process, you can always rely on a professional writer. Services like RushMyEssay UK will pair you up with a writer and an editor, so you’ll get the support you need.

2. Start a Facebook Contest

You want to show that you appreciate your Facebook followers for supporting you on this journey. You can easily do that by giving away few copies of your newly-published book. Just invite them to share why they want the book and tag a friend who would also like it. Then, you’ll send free copies for this fan and the friend they tagged.

This strategy works because it makes people want your book, but it also brings new potential readers towards your page.

3. Start an Instagram Campaign

Kino MacGregor, a yoga teacher with a huge base of followers on Instagram, used this platform as the main promotional tool for her book The Yogi Assignment. She created a separate Instagram page for the book, but she also promoted it through her personal profile.

Instagram offers several opportunities for successful promotion through images, tags, live videos, stories, comments, and connections. Use them well!

4. Offer a Free Chapter

In non-fiction writing, free chapters offer deep insights into the entire essence of the content. However, a free introductory chapter can also be a beneficial marketing strategy for a fiction book.

When you decide to give away a free chapter of your book, spread the news across social media. Ask your followers to become email subscribers at your website, so they can receive the chapter. Don’t forget to include tweet this buttons in strategic spots, so the readers can share quotes and attract other social media users towards your book.

5. Share Photos of People Reading Your Book

This is another popular strategy for authors promoting books on social media. Once you launch the book, ask your followers to share a moment with it. Don’t forget: they need to use a special hashtag, so you and all your followers can see the post.

You may feature all these photos in Facebook or Instagram stories. This method creates the sense of community around your book.

6. Use Medium

John Kim, the author of The Angry Therapist: A No BS Guide to Finding and Living Your Own Truth, is a nice example of how you can use Medium for promoting yourself as an author. This platform allows you to publish content and share it with a large reading audience. It’s like starting a new blog, but the audience is already there and they are willing to discuss your posts.

You won’t write heavy promotional posts on Medium. You’ll share high-quality content related to the niche of your book. That will trigger people’s interest in you, so they will check out your profile description. That will lead them to your published work.

7. Use Great VisualsHow to read non‐fiction books effectively

The social media environment is all about the visuals. Pay attention to all design elements, such as color, shape, size, and arrangement. You need to discover that special vibe that you’re going to spread throughout all your posts on social media. When people see a new image, they should recognize it’s yours.

You may have to hire a graphic designer for this purpose, but it will be a valuable investment.

8. Leverage the Power of the Hashtag

Putting the # in front of a word has strange power. It can make your book recognizable, and it can build an entire community around it. You have to be careful with this method, though; no one wants to see a list of meaningless hashtags under a post. Use the hashtag sparingly and relevantly!

You can create a hashtag with the name of your book, or with a specific concept that’s part of it.

It’s time for all writers to open up to the world. Social media offers wonderful opportunities for self-promotion. A smart campaign can make your book popular and elevate the sales numbers. That’s really important for your success as an author, isn’t it?

Author Bio:

Brandon Stanley is a professional independent journalist. He is interested in writing articles concerning social media, SEO, and advertising. Apart from that, Brandon loves traveling and playing the piano. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

The question I get asked the most is: how do you mark and annotate your books for effective note-taking?

Most readers are hesitant to begin marking their books, and I completely sympathise. It took me years before I realised that the sign of true love for a book , and respect for its author , is to make its pages as dirty with inky thoughts as possible.

This video breaks down my system for marginalia, marking and annotating books.

We’re talking about everything from creating indexes to reading synoptically. We look at fiction, non-fiction, poetry, philosophy and more.

There’s time-stamps for the video below, so feel free to jump around and go to the parts that interest you the most because, at just under 40 minutes, this is a long (but worthwhile) video.

How to Annotate Your Books for Effective Note-Taking


  • 0:10 – how to OWN a book & 3 different types of readers
  • 2:35 – books you DON’T mark
  • 3:20 – the books we’re marking in this video
  • 4:50 – my marking system (indexes, underlinings, circles, stars, etc)
  • 7:30 – rereading being the most important part of reading
  • 9:20 – consider the work as another art form (e.g. opera, painting)
  • 10:00 – tie your markings into your aim
  • 10:30 – slow active reading vs fast passive reading
  • 11:30 – the book examples
  • 11:40 – how to make an index (How to Read and Why by Bloom)
  • 17:49 – dog-ears and indexes (How to Read a Book by Adler)
  • 18:45 – indexes, notes, conversations (Plato’s Republic)
  • 22:43 – reading fiction like non-fiction (The Sign of the Four by Conan Doyle)
  • 24:48 – marking for memory (Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche)
  • 26:58 – marking philosophy and footnote follow-ups (‘On Liberty’ by Mill)
  • 28:39 – marking poetry (Rumi)
  • 30:57 – the Bible and keeping a journal
  • 31:48 – making notes on plays, King Lear, and scraps of paper
  • 32:36 – notes on computer
  • 34:02 – notes on Kindle
  • 35:45 – owning the greatest books ever written
  • 36:55 – marking fiction (Anna Karenina by Tolstoy)
  • 37:50 – 4 questions to consider when reading a book

Books you should buy and mark:

  • How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler (link)
  • How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom (link)

Explore further:

  • How to Write a Badass Book Review (Article)
  • Hardcore Literature Rumi (Podcast)
  • ‘My Last Duchess’ by Browning Analysis (Video)

What book are you going to mark first?

If you enjoyed this video, you may also be interested in this one on why I read:

Encourage your children to select both fiction and nonfiction text to read this summer. Since nonfiction reading is generally harder for most children than reading fiction, we can help our kids be more successful by teaching them specific comprehension strategies.

When I taught 4th and 5th grade, about 90% of kids tested at a nonfiction or expository reading level one grade level below their fiction or narrative reading level.

Often this is simply due to lack of practice as well as knowledge of strategies to improve understanding.

I’m telling you this for a few reasons.

First, I want to make sure you know that we must ask kids to read both nonfiction and fiction. Second, when you’re choosing reading materials, you might want to start with easier texts than for fiction. Especially when practicing strategies and building up confidence.

Practice makes progress. Keep kids reading nonfiction books and you’ll soon see comprehension improve, too. (And vocabulary and background knowledge about lots of things…)

Nonfiction (Expository) Comprehension Strategies

Here are some important things your child needs to know and practice when reading nonfiction text.

Word Attack Skills

When kids come across new words, they need to know how to read those words. You’ll want to be sure you’re teaching…

  • prefixes and suffixes
  • how to find smaller words in the word
  • where to find the glossary
  • phonemic awareness to sound out scientific words

Background Knowledge About Text Structure

Nonfiction usually looks different than fiction, with the exception of narrative nonfiction. Explicitly teach your children about…

  • text features such as headings, captions, diagrams, and photos.
  • how to find the most important information — usually in the first sentence of paragraphs
  • what boldface words indicate (vocabulary or important)

Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Strategies:

Predict, Connect, Question, Determine Importance, Summarize, Synthesize

  • Allow your child to choose what topic to read about. Choice, whenever possible, builds buy-in.
  • Make a prediction about the topic.
  • Think about what background knowledge you already know about the topic.
  • Ask questions about the topic. What do you want to learn?
  • See if your predictions were accurate. Revise and make new predictions when necessary.
  • Look for answers to your questions.
  • Determine what’s important. Help your child separate interesting details from important facts.
  • Infer what new words mean then look up the new vocabulary words to see if you were right. Keep a list.
  • Read nonfiction in short bursts. Build up stamina. Don’t overdo it.
  • Connect what you read to your background knowledge. Discussion helps this! Did you already know that fact? Does it remind you of anything?
  • Summarize the big idea of the book. What was it about? (In a few sentences.)
  • Add this information to what you already knew about the topic — synthesize — and see if you can elaborate on what you now know.
  • Reflect on your predictions. Were they accurate? Could you have done a more accurate job?

And Don’t Forget to Connect Writing Nonfiction to Authentic Nonfiction Text Examples

Often, we may ask children to write nonfiction reports but we don’t connect this to real nonfiction examples. (Actual published texts in the world.)

Use one of your child’s favorite texts as a model. Pick a similar topic and study the style of that favorite non-fiction book. Pick one or two writing skills to teach and use the mentor text to illustrate it.

Writers use models or mentor texts to become better writers and learn a new technique or style. It’s not only okay to use mentor texts, but it’s a valuable way to grow as a writer.

Now Find The Best Nonfiction Books for Your Kids

Find a nonfiction book, magazine, graphic novel, or encyclopedia here:

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Looking for a memorable way to teach students to summarize nonfiction texts? Try this alternative strategy in your middle or high school classroom as a means of differentiation or scaffolding for struggling readers.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to teach students to summarize fictional texts? They seem to catch on so quickly! Maybe it’s because the plot guides the summary, and all of the parts of the story work together sensibly. Exposition. Rising Action. Climax. Falling Action. Resolution. Streamlined, right?

If only nonfiction was equally as straightforward! Unfortunately, I’m not going to tell you there’s a secret formula that will magically transform nonfiction summarizing skills, but I do have some concrete, useful ideas and strategies to help reduce both student and teacher frustration.

One of the reasons I love teaching summarizing is because I know how important it is for skillful comprehension…not only in English class but in all subject areas. If your students can give you the main ideas and most important supporting details of a text in an accurate and objective manner, they are well on their way to being masters of cognition.

So, how can we do that? Here are a few tips to simplify your instruction and help students summarize nonfiction, non-narrative texts:

Start by picking high-interest texts.

Believe me, I know how tempting it is to select a text about the deliciousness of coffee because of your love affair with it (…or maybe that’s mine), but resist the urge! Research says that if kids don’t care about the text, they will most likely not invest themselves in it. One of my go-to sources is Common Lit because it offers a variety of reading levels and provides other useful teacher resources. My students also really enjoy Scholastic Scope and Upfront magazines.

Lead with direct instruction.

While people possess differing opinions on the value of direct instruction, I have seen its benefit when introducing new information. Keep it short, but give an overview of the down and dirty tips you expect your peeps to remember. Of course, include students in conversation during the mini lesson. Make them take notes. They’ll thank you later!

Model, model, and then model again.

Students need to see you working your mojo. Select a short text. Read it or watch it together (students love visual texts). Then, do a think-aloud while you model some brainstorming and writing up on the board. Students generally want to get involved in this process. Let them! If you are uncomfortable with writing on your feet, prepare something in advance and act like you are doing it on the spot. Don’t worry; they’ll never know the difference. What’s important is that they see the internal thought process played out aloud.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Scaffold. I do, we do, you do.

My goal is always to scaffold from direct instruction to guided practice to independent work. After you model, practice as many times as you deem necessary with the class. Modeling with a memorable strategy (I use Be a reporter!) helps students understand what they need to do.

Write a summary together, put them in small groups, let them complete a think-pair-share summary for a different text, and then finally, throw those baby birds out of the nest and see if they fly or splat on the ground. If they come up looking at a “Snort” and think it’s their mother, it’s time to put them back in the nest for more guided practice.

Chunk your instruction.

As with any effectively taught lesson, students need breaks. I try to chunk my instruction into three different parts in a forty-five minute period. If I have an activity that takes longer than 20 minutes, I use brain breaks periodically throughout the lesson. Even having students get up and grab a piece of paper from across the room helps get their blood flowing, increases their energy levels, and improves their focus.

What does this look like with summarizing? Maybe read a text, then have them discuss it with a partner or small group. Manipulatives and sorts provide brain-based approaches to learning how to write nonfiction summaries objectively as well. Following, they could share ideas with the whole class or via musical discussions.


Obviously, you’re assessing how students summarize nonfiction throughout the entire process by asking questions, checking their written ideas, and listening to their conversations. Still, I like to do a formal assessment at the end of the unit, in which I include two things: 1) questions about the process of summarizing nonfiction (like, List three different elements to include in a nonfiction summary.), and 2) a written portion where students read a nonfiction text and write a summary on their own – sans help! At this point, I would expect them to demonstrate proficiency.

And, voila! As they say, keep it simple.

When teaching students to summarize nonfiction, remember that answers will vary. What you’re really looking for is whether or not students can read a nonfiction text and then provide you with the main ideas and most important supporting details in a clear, objective, intelligent manner. Give students praise for everything they do well, and they’ll have more fun along the way.


These summarizing nonfiction text teaching materials will provide you with everything you need to tackle the tips above. I use them at the ninth grade level with all levels: co-taught through enriched, but they would be appropriate for middle school or older high school students who struggle with reading comprehension.

We writers share one thing in common: We exist for the moment a reader gently sets eyes to our first word, our first sentence. From that instant forward, our fate is in our own hands. Either they keep going or they cast us aside.

For me, modest success has been built though a careful approach to craft. Arguably, with all the other wild cards that go into being a writer, it’s the only aspect of my career over which I feel I have total control. Words on the screen. They’re all mine!

For nearly four decades, though vigilant practice, I’ve sought evermore to become the most vivid and commanding writer possible. Being read is a privilege. There’s so much out there to choose to explore. When a reader picks me, I feel thankful. And I feel responsible. In this way writing, to me, is a call to arms. Publication should be a promise to a reader that his or her time (and money) will be well spent. You can’t please everyone, but you can damn sure try.

And if a reader likes you once . . . they might want to check you out again. And so forth.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Success is all about the quality of the service you provide. The rainbow of little thumbs up everyone is so focused upon generating via social media? Well, first and foremost, there needs to be a pot of golden content. Isn’t that what generates the rainbow?

From my first word to my last, I work hard to service and reward my readers. I want to reel them in and take them on a journey. I want to play with their heads a little. I want to dazzle them a little. There’s got to be surprises along the way. And there needs to be a good ending.

After the perspiration and gum shoe work of the reporting and research process, it is time to bring your craft and your magic. No matter if you’re writing a blog post, a newspaper feature, a big-time magazine piece, or a 150,000 word book, originality is the key. The writer’s byline. Isn’t that our brand? You need to make yours stand out.

Over two decades of teaching writing at journalism schools and professional seminars around the country and overseas, I found that certain tidbits of advice I’d written on manuscripts (both electronically and on paper), resurfaced time and again. After a while, I started keeping a list.

25 Tips to Make You a Better Nonfiction Writer

Try these 25 tips out for size and your writing will improve almost immediately.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Here are some of the best ideas, initiatives and projects that teachers use to help students develop a love of reading. Photograph: Alamy.

Here are some of the best ideas, initiatives and projects that teachers use to help students develop a love of reading. Photograph: Alamy.

T he big challenge for teachers is not simply getting students to read – it’s getting them to enjoy it too. It’s one thing for students to trudge through set texts in a lesson, but will they open another book when they get home at the end of the day?

The National Literacy Trust has noted that becoming a lifetime reader is based on developing a deep love of reading.

“Research has repeatedly shown that motivation to read decreases with age, especially if pupils’ attitudes towards reading become less positive,” it said. “If children do not enjoy reading when they are young, then they are unlikely to do so when they get older.”

For younger readers in particular, their home environment is critically important.

“Home is a massive influence,” says Eleanor Webster, a primary school teacher in Nottinghamshire. “Supportive and understanding parents are key to developing their child’s reading.”

But if a pupil doesn’t see people reading at home, it may be harder to instil the idea of reading for pleasure. So what can teachers do to encourage it? Here are some of the best ideas, initiatives and projects that teachers have developed to motivate children and help them develop a love for reading:

Reading challenges

Reading competitions come in many shapes and sizes, with the aim of spicing up literature and giving children an incentive to open a book. Mountbatten School in Hampshire is one school that has run several projects to encourage reading for pleasure.

“We wanted them to try reading a broad range of books,” says Jennifer Ludgate, an English teacher at the school.

“We challenged students to read one book, fiction or non-fiction, from a wide range of genres. They get them ticked off by their teacher and there are medals at the end of the year.”

Another competition saw students race against time to tick off the classics.

“A colleague created the ’16 Before You’re 16 Challenge’ for the older years,” says Ludgate.

“We chose 16 classics, like To Kill A Mockingbird and Brave New World, and challenged students to read as many as they can before they turn 16. It’s a good way to make sure they’re being challenged.”

In another contest, Eleanor Webster gets younger children to read for pleasure with “extreme reading” competitions over the summer holidays.

“They’re always very popular,” she says. “Children take pictures of themselves reading in strange places and we display the photos in the main corridor. Some were on roller coasters, in tractors, on top of bookcases or at holiday destinations.”

The 100 Word Challenge , created by Julia Skinner, asks children to write regular posts online and read other students’ work.

“When you tell kids, ‘We’re going to do some reading,’ it can immediately turn them off,” says Skinner.

“But with this you say: ‘We’re going to support someone who has done some writing. What do you think of it?’ It gives them a purpose to read.”

Jennifer Ludgate, who uses the 100 Word Challenge, explains: “Their homework is to read two students’ writing – they really like it because it’s short, easy to read, and it only takes them a couple of minutes.”


While reading challenges can give a sense of purpose, escaping the challenges of school is a crucial part of encouraging reading for pleasure.

“Children won’t find reading pleasurable if there is too much pressure on them,” says Webster, “so a relaxed atmosphere and a positive ethos around reading is really important.”

“One teacher in my school started referring to library sessions as ‘the escape’,” says Suzy Dodd, an English teacher at the Co-operative Academy of Leeds.

Promoting reading as a form of escapism from the general pressures of school and their social lives encouraged her class to see reading as a form of self-indulgent relaxation, instead of another intelligence test. Her class are among the most prolific readers in the school.

In September she gives her kids a good talk about reading as escapism, and then introduces library sessions by saying, “we get to escape for an hour today”.

Teacher involvement

“Showing students that teachers of all subjects read books, not just the English teachers, is really important,” says Ludgate.

“We asked teachers to bring in two or three of their favourite books. Then, at the start of every lesson, whether that be geography, maths or whatever, the teacher would read to the class for ten minutes from their favourite book.

“The students would come in talking about what their PE or history teacher was reading, and that would spark really interesting discussions. It’s especially good if they don’t see people reading at home. “

Reading walls

“Having a print-rich environment is important,” says John Murphy, who is an English and history teacher in Ireland and blogs at Web of Notes.

“The surroundings should encourage reading in all its forms and support their choices of reading material. I don’t simply mean putting up a poster which tries to promote reading because it’s ‘cool’ – I think they’re totally ineffective. Instead, students and teachers could share the name of the book that they’re reading at the moment, and offer a sentence about it. It’s a great way to share recommendations.”

Drop Everything And Read

Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) is used in classrooms across the country, and allows children to forget their normal tasks and drift away with a good book.

Webster explains: “The whole school has a set time in the school day where children read to themselves or an adult and they can choose from a wide variety of books.”

Ludgate says it is important that DEAR does not become a task: “Having 10 minutes of reading at the beginning of every lesson doesn’t always work because it can become too ingrained. But the idea with DEAR is that it goes across different subjects – not just English.”

Reading to the class

Encouraging children to read for pleasure is about more than getting them to pick up a book; it’s equally important for children to appreciate a good story.

“I think it’s important to make sure you read to them as much as they read for themselves or other people, making it a more supportive environment,” says Ludgate.

“Spending once a half term saying, ‘Right, I’m going to read to you this lesson’, I think really encourages them to appreciate it. The older years in particular haven’t been read to at home for so long that they absolutely love it.”

Anything goes

“It’s crucial to bear in mind what the student wants to read,” says Murphy. “Having this control shouldn’t be undervalued, and I think they should be allowed to venture from one type of book to another.

“Introduce students to a wide variety of texts, mediums and genres – they may surprise themselves once they have faced preconceived ideas about what they consider enjoyable and embrace a diversity in what they read. Comics, ebooks, short stories, online articles and magazines shouldn’t be ignored.”

Books across the curriculum

“Our curriculum is very creative and topics are often set around a book,” says Webster.

“Children respond well to it because they love exploring details of books and making books come to life. For example, we had a whole term based on the Gruffalo in September. Now in the summer term children often recite it word for word and talk about other Julia Donaldson books they’ve read since.”

Choose your book carefully

Being interested in a book will help you write a strong review, so take some time to choose a book whose topic and scholarly approach genuinely interest you.

If you’re assigned a book, you’ll need to find a way to become interested in it.

Read actively and critically

Don’t read just to discover the author’s main point or to mine some facts.

Engage with the text, marking important points and underlining passages as you go along (in books you own, of course!).

Focus first on summary and analysis

Before you read

  • Write down quickly and informally some of the facts and ideas you already know about the book’s topic
  • Survey the book–including the preface and table of contents–and make some predictions
  • Here are some questions to ask:
    • What does the title promise the book will cover or argue?
    • What does the preface promise about the book?
    • What does the table of contents tell you about how the book is organized?
    • Who’s the audience for this book?

As you read

With individual chapters:

  • Think carefully about the chapter’s title and skim paragraphs to get an overall sense of the chapter.
  • Then, as you read, test your predictions against the points made in the chapter.
  • After you’ve finished a chapter, take brief notes. Start by summarizing, in your own words, the major points of the chapter. Then you might want to take brief notes about particular passages you might discuss in your review.

Begin to evaluate

As you take notes about the book, try dividing your page into two columns. In the left, summarize main points from a chapter. In the right, record your reactions to and your tentative evaluations of that chapter.

Here are several ways you can evaluate a book:

  • If you know other books on this same subject, you can compare the arguments and quality of the book you’re reviewing with the others, emphasizing what’s new and what’s especially valuable in the book you’re reviewing.
  • If you don’t know others books on this subject, you can still do some evaluation. Ask, for example:
    • How well does the book fulfill the promises the author makes in the preface and introduction?
    • How effective is the book’s methodology?
    • How effectively does the book make its arguments?
    • How persuasive is the evidence?
    • For its audience, what are the book’s strengths?
    • How clearly is the book written?

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

George R. R Martin once said readers relive thousands of lives reading, while non-readers only live once. Americans have varied reading habits across different demographics. Some prefer to flip the pages, others listen to audiobooks, and for some, scrolling through an e-book is okay.

We’ll tell you how many books you can read annually and in your lifetime in this post. We will disaggregate book readership based on age, sex, and education. Further, we shall explore current trends in the reading world and seek to understand why Americans are reading fewer books.

How many books have you read in the last year?

The Pew Research Center released their latest data on American reading habits , and the results show some interesting — and somewhat surprising — trends. Roughly 72 percent of American adults read a book in 2015, continuing a gradual decline over the last 5 years (from 79 percent in 2011). The figure now stands at 75 percent, according to the recent statistics released by Pew Research Center.

However, these stats include people who reported reading “one book…in part,” so it’s unclear how many made it all the way through.

The average number of books each person read over the course of a year was 12, but the most avid readers inflate that number. The most frequently reported number was 4 books per year. Of course, there’s plenty of variation among demographics. Certain groups read more, or less, than the country as a whole. Here’s what the data showed:

Educated, affluent women read the most

Women tend to read more than men. About 77 percent of American women read a book in 2015, compared with 67 percent of American guys. Also, the average woman read 14 books in 12 months, while the average man read only 9. Across both genders, readership also went up with education and income.

About 90 percent of college grads read at least one book a year, compared to 34 percent of people who haven’t finished high school. Also, the more money they earned, the likelier they were to be readers. It’s hard to say whether education and income are causes of this trend since people who go to college probably grow up reading more anyway, and income correlates with education. But the bottom line is that educated, high-earning women sit atop the reading pyramid in America.

Older people read less

One notable aspect of the data is that people tend to read less as they age. Fully 80 percent of 18–29-year-olds reported reading at least one book, compared to 69 percent of seniors (65+).

Americans don’t read as much as most other countries

Oh no! The ugly truth is that Americans as a whole lag behind most of the rest of the world when it comes to reading books. Are we too busy playing Candy Crush or posting on Facebook and Twitter to crack an actual paper spine? Maybe.

The map below, reprinted in The Paris Review, shows that Indian people actually spend the most time in-between pages, followed closely by the Thai and Chinese. Americans are slackers compared to these countries, spending just a little more than half the time reading that our Indian counterparts do.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

CEOs tend to be voracious readers

Outside of the Pew study, we also looked for stats on how much the average CEO reads. It was hard to locate a formal study, but anecdotal evidence suggests that executives read 4–5 books per month, far outpacing the general population. As for what they’re reading, it’s not all motivational or business-themed: many top CEOs also reported reading novels, plays, and philosophy. Check out what some specific big names are consuming with this info-graphic .

Current trends in the reading world: ebooks and audiobooks

Americans still prefer print to other book forms, and more than two-thirds of Americans admit to reading a book in print, audio, or electronic. E-book readers grew in popularity, from 25% to 30%, while Americans who listened to audiobooks were 23%. Looks like the habit of reading e-books is picking.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Understanding the decline in book readership

Book readership among Americans is declining . The 6% number of Americans who loved passing the time reading a book is the lowest ever since Gallup started surveying book readership. The least rate was 10%.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Subgroups that were avid readers are now reading fewer books. Comparing 2021 stats with 2002 to 2016, women dropped from 19.3% to 15.7%. Americans above 55 are also reading fewer books, 9.5% down from 10.8%. College students reported the most significant book readership drop, from 21.1% to 14.6%.

Researchers should do more studies to ascertain why Americans are reading less, noting that book readership decline has nothing to do with Americans not reading any book-17% (Gallup) or 23% (Pew Research Centre).

Perhaps the love for other sources of entertainment has grown, or maybe Americans have no time to read, or maybe they have lost interest in books.

Perhaps worries about COVID 19 led fewer people to visit libraries and bookstores. Still, Americans could have books delivered to their doorstep or download e-books and audiobooks. So, book access is not that much of an issue. In fact, print book sales increased by 9% in 2021.

How many books does the average person read during their lifetime?

The average reader will complete 12 books in a year. If the life expectancy is 86 for females and 82 for males, and the proper reading age 25 years, Literary Hub notes that the average number of books read in a lifetime is 735 for females and 684 for males.

How much do you read?

If you’re an educated, young female CEO, the data says you’re probably reading something right now! If not, you can always hit your local library or bookstore to find something to sink your teeth into.

Most people have read no more than 6 of these beloved books despite them being classics. It’s never too late to reinvest in reading, and there’s a good chance you’ll become a more interesting person as a result. For research-proven techniques and strategies on how to read faster (and remember more of what you read), check out an Iris Reading course online or in your city. Happy reading!

More Resources:

  • Attend a live speed-reading course in your city
  • Register for an online speed-reading course

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Thomas Whittington

Thomas Whittington is an instructor with Iris Reading. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 despite being a painfully slow reader. In 2008, he took an Iris course and, with practice, dramatically improved his reading speed. Hey, better late than never! Thomas’ other interests include acting, comedy, and the Chicago Cubs.

Nonfiction (as noted elsewhere , as well as below) is characterized by a claim of truth. Nonfiction can include a wide range of subjective forms of discussion:

  • assertions of personal preferences or belief,
  • appeals more to trust, faith, or personal values than scientific evidence or logical proof,
  • subjective analysis of otherwise objective data,
  • conclusions asserted with varying degrees of certainty.

Critical readers will recognize these subjective elements in seemingly objective presentations.

We read nonfiction for knowledge, new ideas, or to understand someone’s perspective on, or analysis of, the world. We analyze works of nonfiction to recognize how choices of content and language shape the reader’s perceptions and encourage the reader’s acceptance.

Fiction: The Story And The Moral

Readers have different expectations from fiction and nonfiction. Proof is a major issue with nonfiction; emotional involvement is a major issue with fiction. We expect a story (fiction) to grab us, an essay (nonfiction) to convince us. We will suspend belief when reading a romance novel or science fiction, but demand reason and evidence from nonfiction.

For passing time or sheer enjoyment, of course, simply reading the story can be satisfaction and reward enough. We do not have to analyze everything we read. The point is to be able to interpret when we want to—or have to.

Both fiction and nonfiction can be subjected to analysis and interpretation. These two forms of expression are, however, examined somewhat differently. One analyzes a nonfiction text

  • to discover underlying themes and perspectives, as well as
  • to realize how choices of content and language shape the reader’s perception and encourage the reader’s acceptance.

Analyzing Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, for instance, we can recognize not only remarks on the dedication of a cemetery, but comparisons between images of the living and dead, between what has been done and what must be done.

We analyze fictional works for recurring themes that reflect on the broader human experience. People do not really tell nursery rhymes so that children will know about a girl named Cinderella or about pigs who built houses. The stories have deeper, unstated meanings: virtue rewarded (Cinderella) or the folly of a lack of industry (The Three Little Pigs). We respond to both the story and an underlying message.

On the surface, Melville’s Moby Dick , for instance, might be seen as an adventure story about a man hunting a whale. On closer analysis and interpretation, the novel might be seen as a depiction of man’s battle to subdue nature or of a battle between good and evil. Since fiction is indirect, fiction can require a significant degree of analysis and interpretation if one is to get beyond simply following the story.

Fiction is Subjective

Fiction can be true, however, only in the sense that the actions or behaviors “ring true” with what we know of the world. The sentiment may be real, but the characters and incidents are the fruits of the author’s imagination. And author and directors—as in the movies referred to above—often use “dramatic license” to distort history for dramatic effect.

Fiction is Evocative: Images and Symbols

Fiction evokes ideas and feelings indirectly by triggering emotional responses and mental pictures. Fiction commonly communicates through images and symbols. Color is often symbolic, as with the red passion of the Scarlet Letter in the novel of that title. Sunlight often conveys truth or reason. In Willa Cather’s short story “Death Comes to the Archbishop” the development of the Bishop’s garden is a metaphor for the expansion of Catholicism in the New World. And then there is the politically incorrect use of white and black for good and bad, as in old Western movies.

Readers must be open to associations and reflection, creative in their understanding and interpretation. They must recognize a richness of figurative language and concomitant element of ambiguity. The more evocative a text, the more the reader must do the work of finding meaning within the text.

Interpretation: A Personal Understanding

With fiction, the meaning is dependent on the perceptions, imagination, and feelings of the reader. In both cases, however, we demand that an interpretation be based on evidence on the page. And in both cases, part of understanding is understanding one’s own interests, values, and desires and how they affect what one looks for and how one thinks about what one finds.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

There are three steps to effectively taking notes while reading:

  1. At the end of each chapter write a few bullet points that summarize what you’ve read and make it personal if you can — that is, apply it to something in your life. Also, note any unanswered questions. When you’re done the book, put it down for a week.
  2. Pick up the book again and go through all your notes. Most of these will be garbage but there will be lots you want to remember. Write the good stuff on the inside cover of the book along with a page number.
  3. (Optional) Copy out the excerpts by hand or take a picture of them to pop into Evernote. Tag accordingly.

I’ve been asked to how to take notes while reading a lot. Often what people are really getting at is how can I better focus, retain, and use what I’m reading. And taking notes while reading can supercharge all of these things if you do it right. However, when we’re taught how to read read, we’re not allowed to write in books. So we never really learn a system for taking notes that we can use as adults.

The first step to taking notes is to figure out why you are taking notes. If you’re studying for an exam your notes are going to look different than if you’re reading for entertainment. The way you take notes depends on the reason you’re taking notes.

Learning something new as an adult is a function of consuming information (what you read and how you read), the information you retain, and your ability to put what you learned into practice (recognize patterns). For this, I use a simple three-step note-taking process that scales up to 150 books a year.

Like almost everything in life, there is no magical answer that fits everyone. You’ll have to do a bit of trial and error and take what works for you.

Taking Notes While Reading

Step One.The first thing I do when I pick up a book is read the preface, the table of contents, and the inside jacket. Often, I’ll glance over the index too. This doesn’t take long and often saves me time, as a lot of books do not make it past this filter. Maybe it doesn’t contain the information I’m trying to gain. If it seems crappy, I’ll flip to a few random pages to verify.

This filter is a form of systematic skimming. This isn’t my term, Mortimer Adler, a guy who literally wrote the book on reading, came up with it. Adler says there are four levels of reading. I tend to blend inspectional reading and analytical reading together for most books.

This way, when I start reading a book, I have an idea what it’s about, the main argument, and some of the terminology involved. I know where the author is going to take me and the broad strokes of how they will bring me along. That’s very useful information.

While reading, I take notes. I circle words I need to look up. I star points that I think are critical to the argument. I underline anything that strikes me as interesting. I comment like a madman in the margins. I try to tease out assumptions, etc.

Essentially, I’m trying to engage in a conversation with the author. Maybe my questions will be answered on the next page or in the next chapter. Maybe I’ll need to find another book to answer them. Who knows. But I write them down.

At the end of each chapter, I write a few bullet points that summarize what I’ve just read. When I’m done, I write a brief summary of the entire book and then I do something few other people do. I let the book age.

I put the book on my desk and I won’t touch it for anywhere from a few days to a week. This is very important.

Step two.
When I pick the book up again, I re-read every scribble, underline, and comment I’ve made (assuming I can still read my writing). Sometimes I can’t.

I’m not the same person I was the first time I read the book, two things have changed: (1) I’ve read the entire book and (2) I’ve had a chance to sleep on what may have seemed earth-shattering at the time but now just seems meh.

If something still strikes my interest, I write a note in the first few pages of the book, in my own words, on the topic. Often this is a summary but increasingly it’s ways to apply the knowledge. I index this to the page number in the book.

Sometimes, and this depends on the book, I’ll create a sort of mental summary of the book’s main arguments and gaps. Sometimes I’ll cross-link points with other books.

Step 3 (optional but highly effective).
Wait a few days. Then go through the book and copy out excerpts by hand and put them into your repository or commonplace book. I use these notes to connect and synthesize ideas as I read.

To aid recall, connect the ideas to something you already have in your mind. Is it a continuation of the idea? Does it replace an idea? Is it the same idea in a different discipline? I add these connections to my notes and percolate them in my mind. Often I turn out to be mistaken but that’s the process.

Most of the time, you get to see the ideas on Farnam Street. You can see how I connect and contextualize ideas, linking them across disciplines. I find writing about the ideas really helps me develop my understanding.

Even if you don’t share your thoughts with millions of people you can do the same thing with Evernote, which is searchable, easy to use, and free. Personally, I do not use technology as a substitute for the non-technological approach mentioned above but rather as a compliment.

I rarely listen to books but if you are listening to a book, create a new note for that book and type in notes as you are listening. I know a few people that do not take notes as they are listening because they listen in the car on the way to work. They find that sitting down right away when they get to work and typing up notes is an effective way to improve recall although the notes are less accurate.

If you liked this article, you’ll love our helpful guide to reading better.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Jetta Productions / Getty Images

We’ve all encountered chapters or books that we just can’t get into or we don’t understand. There are lots of reasons for this: sometimes we’re required to read about a topic that is just plain boring, sometimes we try to read material that is written way above our current reading level, and sometimes we find that the writer is just plain bad at explaining things. It happens.

If you find yourself reading an entire chapter or book several times without understanding it, try taking the following steps. Be sure to do steps 1 to 3 before you jump in to read the text.

Difficulty: Hard

Time Required: Differs by length of written material

What You Need:

  • A difficult book or passage
  • Note paper
  • Pencil
  • Sticky note flags
  • Quiet room

How to Do It

1. Read the introduction and reflect. Any nonfiction article or book will have an introductory section that gives an overview of the main points. Read this first, then stop, think, and soak it in.
Reason: All textbooks on a certain topic are not created equal! Every writer has a certain theme or point of view, and that will be introduced in your introduction. It’s important to understand this theme or focus because it will help you to recognize why certain examples or comments appear in your reading.

2. Look at the sub-headings. Most books or chapters will progress in some manner, whether they show a progression of time or an evolution of ideas. Look over the topics and try to find the pattern.
Reason: Writers begin the writing process with an outline. The subheadings or subtitles you see in your text show you how the author started when organizing his/her thoughts. Subtitles show the overall subject broken down into smaller segments which are arranged in the most logical progression.

3. Read the summary and reflect. Right after you read the introduction and subheadings, flip to the back of the chapter and read the summary.
Reason: The summary should re-state the points that were mentioned in the introduction. (If they don’t, then this really is a difficult book to understand!) This reiteration of the main points may offer the material in more depth or from a different viewpoint. Read this section, then stop and soak it in.

4. Read the material. Now that you’ve had time to understand the points the author is trying to convey, you’re more apt to recognize them when they come along. When you see a major point, flag it with a sticky note.

5. Take notes. Take notes and, if possible, make a brief outline as you read. Some people like to underline words or points in pencil. Only do this if you own the book.

6. Watch for lists. Always look for code words that tell you a list is coming. If you see a passage that says “There were three major effects of this event, and they all impacted the political climate,” or something similar, you can be sure there is a list following. The effects will be listed, but they may be separated by many paragraphs, pages, or chapters. Always find them and make note of them.

7. Look up words you don’t understand. Don’t be in a rush! Stop whenever you see a word that you can’t immediately define in your own words.
Reason: One word can indicate the entire tone or view of the piece. Don’t try to guess the meaning. That can be dangerous! Make sure to look up the definition.

8. Keep on plugging through. If you’re following the steps but you still don’t seem to be soaking in the material, just keep reading. You’ll surprise yourself.

9. Go back and hit the highlighted points. Once you get to the end of the piece, go back and review the notes you’ve made. Look over the important words, points, and lists.
Reason: Repetition is the key to retaining information.

10. Review the introduction and summary. When you do, you may find that you’ve absorbed more than you realized.

PublicBookshelf has a wide selection of fact-based books in addition to its popular categories of biographies & memoir books, spirituality books, self-help books, sex & relationship books, cookbooks and cooking books as well as books on sports, computers & technology and arts and craft books. Read books online free.

Take a look at expert-written books filled with useful information that may apply to your personal life, professional success or recreational interests. You may find a new vacation destination, a career option you had never thought of or a timesaving method for organizing your life.

One word of warning, though. When reading about issues that may have a legal or financial impact on your life, always consult a secondary source, such as your accountant or attorney. While many non-fiction authors are experts in their fields, they do not know the specifics of your situation.

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How to read non‐fiction books effectively

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This ‘overdue’ work, may lead the ‘denied’ Hindu castes and the favored folks alike for an objective approach to the in vogue Bhagvad-Gita dispelling the misgivings of the former and the delusions of the latter to bridge the Hindu emotional gulf with its abridged book that restores its original form

Published On: January 11, 2016

One of the biggest changes with incorporating the Common Core curriculum into schools is the emphasis on reading nonfiction. Some teachers worry that more students will be turned off to reading by this change, but more and more teachers are discovering that when fiction and nonfiction are paired, they can significantly improve literacy development. Students are drawn to both facts and narrative, so when fiction and nonfiction are paired, they get the best of both worlds. That’s why it’s a good idea to explore classroom ideas designed around how to pair the two.

Why pairing fiction and nonfiction increases literacy development

It is very difficult these days to cover everything districts require students to know each year. But when language arts is integrated with subjects such as science or social studies, it is almost like a timesaver for teachers. It is a great way to build vocabulary and show children the same words in different genres. When children begin to make connections regardless of genre, their literacy development increases. They start to look at the world through lenses that filter information for true and pretend data. This creates more discerning learners who question and solve problems. The more teachers create classroom ideas that require students to use higher-level thought processes, the better their literacy development will be.

Classroom ideas for pairing fiction and nonfiction

  • Pre-teach vocabulary words
  • Have kids create K-W-L (Know-Want to know-Learned) charts
  • Teach kids how to “unpack” primary documents like the Constitution
  • Have kids identify which parts of their fiction book use nonfiction information
  • Have students complete Venn diagrams or graphic organizers to compare texts

Book ideas for pairing fiction and nonfiction

One great book teachers can use to help develop classroom ideas for pairing fiction and nonfiction is Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley’s new book Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science. Here are some great pairings to try:

  • Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss
  • Nic Bishop Spiders by Nic Bishop
  • Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss
  • Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser
  • How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague
  • Dinosaurs by Gail Gibbons
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  • Bats by Gail Gibbons
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman
  • Police Officers on the Go by Alyse Sweeney

Literacy development in children depends on knowledgeable teachers who make it a point to find and give children great literature. When children begin to connect how they learn best with fiction and nonfiction, they can become more responsible for their own learning. Teachers who develop classroom ideas that foster a more balanced reading program of nonfiction and fiction are more likely to produce students who are well read and have better vocabularies.

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When you are new to university study, the amount of reading you are expected to do can be daunting. What appears to be an impossible task (tackling all that text) becomes possible when you start becoming an active reader; that is, asking questions about what you need to find out, taking a strategic and critical approach, and then selecting readings that relate to your questions and tasks.

Does uni study involve lots of reading?

In a word—yes. Most courses involve a great deal of reading, which is why you need to learn new techniques to manage the workload.

What will I be expected to read for?

  • Lectures: You will be expected to do some pre-reading in order to prepare for lectures
  • Tutorials: Tutorials are often based on assigned readings. If you have not read the material, you won’t be able to participate in group discussions.
  • Assignments: You can’t write your assignment until you have done the necessary research.

The aim of most of your reading will be to seek information related to an assignment or course material.

I read novels and newspapers – will reading uni material be the same?

To get the most out of academic reading and to use your time effectively, you need to take a strategic approach.

I have a reading list – am I expected to read everything on it?

Lengthy reading lists for courses and essays can be confusing, particularly when the subjects are unfamiliar. Only rarely will you be expected to read everything. If the thought of all that reading is daunting, don’t hesitate to take a strategic approach and be selective.

Tips for active reading

Reading at university = reading with a purpose

Successful study at uni is often about meeting competing demands and deadlines, so you need to get the most out of your reading in the limited time available. Before you begin, make sure you have identified a) the purpose for doing the reading and b) what you need to achieve.

Always read with a purpose in mind. Before you begin, you should have an idea of why you are reading and what you are looking for/ what you want to achieve. Are you reading:

  • to locate specific information
  • to understand difficult ideas
  • to gain an overview of something
  • to enjoy words and descriptions (as in poetry and some prose)
  • to relax and escape into a novel?

Think about the way you would read to get a broad idea of what an article might be about, compared to how you would read to understand a complex and detailed concept—you might use previewing for the first task and intensive or critical reading for the second. For more information, see Reading Strategies.

Working out why you are reading something (what you need to achieve) will determine the way you read it or which reading strategies to use.

Be selective about what you read

Uni study requires a lot of reading within a limited time, so it is important to be selective about what you read. You need to make decisions about what is essential.

  • Establish which readings are required for your course and which are suggested (not compulsory). In some courses required readings take the form of a Course ‘Reader’ or textbook, in others your lecturer/ tutor will indicate what is essential.
  • There will be times when you need to read an entire article or chapter in detail. At other times you may be looking for specific information relating to an assignment topic soonly a couple of pages or even a couple of paragraphs in a text will be useful. Once you locate the parts of a text that are going to be most relevant you may not need to read the rest.

How to select?

  • Know what you are looking for i.e. have a purpose.
  • Identify keywords to help you search.
  • Look for these keywords when browsing the table of contents and index of a book for relevant pages.
  • Obtain an overview to further narrow down the ‘possibly useful’ field.

Focus on the question/ task

  • Ask yourself what it is you must find out. Identify questions you want to answer; actively look for those answers and evidence to inform them.
  • Identify a few topic kewords to look for. Your assignment questions usually have these.
  • If you are reading for a specific assignment, read with a copy of the question/task on hand so you don’t waste time reading irrelevant material.

Before you read, establish what you already know

Being aware of the knowledge you already have of a topic as well as linking new material with your experience will help you read more effectively.

  • Ask yourself what you already know or think about this topic (from lectures, from other reading, from what you have heard or seen).
  • If you have a reading list, select a source that might offer a good starting point. If the topic or material is new, begin with a general introductory text.
  • Read any related questions to the reading before doing the reading; they may be questions at the back of the chapter or the essay/assignment question.
  • Identify your expectations – what do you think it will be about?
  • Ask yourself questions about the topic. Change the title, headings and subheadings into questions or ask yourself what you want to find out.

You will remember more if you read with questions in your mind, rather than adopting the ‘sponge’ approach – simply trying to absorb everything.

Break reading into manageable segments

If you are finding reading overwhelming, break the reading up into manageable segments e.g. chapters, individual articles, a specific number of pages, etec.

  • Identify your purpose and the time you have available.
  • Set yourself a goal, for example, decide to read for a set length of time or a certain number of pages.
  • Reward yourself with a break when you’ve completed it.
  • The tasks and goals may be large or small, depending on what needs to be achieved.

Keep track of what you read

Always note where information and ideas come from. Record details of author, title, place of publication, publisher and date so that you can find the text again if necessary. Always record page numbers with any notes you take.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

I used to highlight and write the heck out of my books when reading nonfiction. In addition, I would also take notes using a spiral notebook. But this becomes problematic when I need to come back to the book weeks or months later for reference. I would have to browse through the whole book looking at my notes and highlights to remember big and important ideas. It was rather an ineffective way of notetaking.

A couple of months ago, I read a blog post by Cal Newport that showed a better way of taking notes while reading nonfiction. According to Cal Newport, this method was actually inspired by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. Instead of the inefficient way in which I have been going about with my notetaking, I tried the new approach outlined in Cal Newport’s blog post. The idea is rather simple and goes something like this:

1. As you read, use the empty front page(s) of your book to create an index of interesting or big ideas of the book.

2. When you encounter a passage that relates to the idea, write the page number of the passage in the index. It also helps to quickly circle mark the passage with an asterisk.

3. The more you read, the more the index grows as you encounter new passages and new ideas.

This method is great because when you pick up a book you read a long time ago, you can quickly glance at your created index to get a quick synopsis and summary of the book. Additionally, if you want to delve further into specific ideas of the book , you can use the index to quickly skim through specific pages of the book.

This method is also great because it allows you to quickly take notes without hindering reading speed too much. There is no evidence that writing actual notes will help you retain more information than just simply using this index method. However, using this indexing method will allow you to get through the book faster and recall ideas faster.

Here is a picture of one of my books that I used this method with. The book is called A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra). The picture on the left shows my indexing system while the picture on the right shows what I do on specific pages to mark the corresponding passages:

How to read non‐fiction books effectivelyHow to read non‐fiction books effectively

I found that I was able to remember the material a lot better because I was able to practice my recall of the ideas just by looking at the index, instead of rereading the material. In addition, I was able to more quickly find material I was looking for when I was trying to find ideas to blog about.

Overall, this notetaking system for reading nonfiction has allowed me to recall more of the information I’ve read and has allowed me to read at a much faster speed than if I was taking notes and highlighting. Try out this system to see how you like it.

Read – We start with the obvious: you need to read. Find me someone who has changed the world and who spent his time watching television and I’ll find you a thousand who read books instead. Unless reading is your passion, you may need to be very deliberate about setting aside time to read. You may need to force yourself to do it. Set yourself a reasonable target (“I’m going to read three books this year” or “I’m going to finish this book before the end of the month”) and work towards it. Set aside time every day or every week and make sure you pick up the book during those times. Find a book dealing with a subject of particular interest to you. You may even find it beneficial to find a book that looks interesting–a nice hardback volume with a beautiful, embossed cover, easy-to-read fonts and beautiful typography. Reading is an experience and the experience begins with the look and feel of the book. So find a book that looks like one you’ll enjoy and commit to reading it. And when you’ve done that, find another one and do it again. And again.


How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Show Your Support

Read Widely – I’m convinced that one reason people do not read more is that they do not vary their reading enough. Any subject, no matter how much you are interested in it, can begin to feel dry if you focus all of your attention upon it. So be sure to read widely. Read fiction and non-fiction, theology and biography, current affairs and history, Christian and non. You will no doubt want to focus the majority of your reading in one broad area, and that is well and good. But be sure to vary your diet.

Read Deliberately – Similar to reading widely, ensure that you read deliberately. Choose your books carefully. If you neglect to do this, you may find that you overlook a particular category for months or even years at a time. Al Mohler, a voracious reader, divides books into six categories: Theology, Biblical Studies, Church Life, History, Cultural Studies, and Literature and has some project going within each of these categories at all times. You can draw up categories of your own, but try to ensure you are reading from a variety of the categories on a regular basis. Choose books that fit into each of these categories and plan your reading ahead of time, so you know what book you will read next and you know what you’ll read after that. Anticipation for the next book is often a motivating force in completing the current book.

Read Interactively – Reading is best done, at least when enjoying serious books, when you work hard at understanding the book and when you interact with the author’s arguments. Read with a highlighter and pencil in hand. Ask questions of the author and expect him to answer them through the course of the text. Scrawl notes in the margins, write questions inside the front cover, and return to them often (and, if the questions remain unanswered, even seek to contact the author!). Highlight the most important portions of the book, or the ones you intend to return to later. As Al Mohler says, “Books are to be read and used, not collected and coddled.” I have found that writing reviews of the books I read is a valuable way of returning at least one more time to the book to make sure that I understand what the author was trying to say and how he said it. So interact with those books and make them your own.

Read with Discernment – Though books have incredible power to do good, to challenge and strengthen and edify, they also have the power to do evil. I have seen lives transformed by books but have also seen lives crushed. So do ensure that you read with discernment, always comparing the books you read to the standard of Scripture. If you encounter a book that is particularly controversial, it may be worth ensuring that you can reference a review that interacts critically with the arguments or that you can read it with a person who better understands the arguments and their implications. You do not need to fear any book as long as you read with a critical eye and with a discerning mind.

Read Heavy Books – It can be intimidating to stare at some of those massive volumes or series of volumes sitting on your bookshelf, but be sure to make time to read some of those serious works. A person can only grow so much while living on a diet of easy-reading Christian Living books. Make your way through some Jonathan Edwards or John Calvin. Read Grudem’s Systematic Theology or David Wells’ “No Place for Truth” series. You will find them slow-going, to be sure, but will also find them rewarding. Commit to reading some of these heavy volumes as a regular part of your reading diet. Consider joining in one of our Reading Classics Together efforts to add some interaction and accountability in reading one of the classics of the faith.

Read Light Books – While dense books should be a serious reader’s main diet, there is nothing wrong with pausing to enjoy the occasional novel or light read. After reading two or three good books, allow yourself to read a Clancy or Grisham or Peretti something else that never changed anyone’s life. Allow yourself to get lost in a good story every now and again and stay up way too late insisting that you’re going to read just one more chapter. You will find that they refresh you and prepare you to read the next heavy book.

Read New Books – Keep an eye on what is new and popular and consider reading what other people in your church or neighborhood are reading. If The Secret is selling millions of copies, consider reading it so you know what people are reading and so you can attempt to discern why people are reading it. Use your knowledge of these books as a bridge to talk to people about their books and what attracts them to the ones they read. Use your knowledge of these books to understand what other Christians are reading and why.

Read Old Books – Do not read only new books. I cannot say this any better than C.S. Lewis: “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.” So be sure to read old books, whether that means classics or whether that simply means books that come from a generation or two before your own. And be sure to read history as well, since there is no better way of understanding today than by understanding yesterday.

Read What Your Heroes Read – A few years ago, while at the Shepherds’ Conference, a young man who was in ministry but had not had opportunity to attend seminary asked John MacArthur what he would recommend to this man so he could continue learning and continue growing in his knowledge of theology. MacArthur’s answer was simple: He said that this pastor should find godly men he admires and read what they read. So do that! Find people you admire and read the books that have most shaped them. Visit the web sites of your heroes and you may just find that they have already compiled lists of their most formative books. Read these books and see for yourself how they shaped your heroes.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Although not all voracious readers are good writers, most good writers are serious readers.

Reading involves two things, comprehension of the subject matter, and the memory to retain the material read, both of which are components of the learning process. In fact, a lot of studies have even suggested that writing skills improve from reading as a whole, rather than the separate learning of language and grammar. These days even a small bit of writing, like making a business presentation, often requires research skills that involve a lot of reading.

To improve your writing skills I would suggest you read everything that comes your way.

From newspapers to books (both fiction and non-fiction), and from magazines and pamphlets, to the labels of bottles and boxes, read everything. And every once a while, read-up on a topic that will take you out of your comfort levels of understanding, and which is a new genre all together.

Voracious reading benefits writing skills as follows

Reading improves comprehension for a subject

While it is always easy to comprehend a subject we are already aware of, reading various subjects and topics which otherwise wouldn’t have been interesting to us goes a long way in improving our understanding of newer and more difficult subjects. Over time, this ability sharpens so much that it is possible for a reader to read a variety of topics under the sun and comprehend the basic essences of the topics even quicker each time.

So if you have a management background, try reading a history or a science article in your spare time; or read a financial magazine, if you had been a student of art.

Reading improves vocabulary

While it’s not essential to search for a meaning every time we tumble over a difficult word, every new word we read adds to our comprehensive abilities, as the mind tries to connect the words with each other and generate a full picture. Most often, our vocabulary of difficult words increases on repeat exposure to those words in various contexts of reading.

When we were in college we used to pick up a difficult word from the books we were currently reading and use it regularly in sentences with friends, a habit which has helped me tremendously in recalling those words as I write today.

Reading more improves concentration

It’s always difficult to concentrate at the start of a writing project. This is more so when our writing requires a whole lot of research. Regular reading hours in a day help improve this concentration ability. Increasing concentration, as all yoga gurus will tell you, is a matter of practice. Reading allows us to practice on our concentration every day, and aids us in concentrating on our writing project as well.

Reading exposes us to different writing styles

Whether you are a professional writer, or you write for your work and business requirements, your level of reading will determine your personal writing style.

Shakespeare never wrote like Jane Austen, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote like Sidney Sheldon, for each have developed their own special writing styles, which still enthrall the readers of today.

Writing for, say, an art magazine is, again, vastly different from writing for medical journals. It’s only when we have gone through various genres of reading, that a writer develops his or her own style, a style which often becomes a signature of the writer.

In the end, it’s most important to remember, do not get stressed over reading. Read for the fun of reading, for when the mind is free, we can retain the maximum of what has been read.

Your child has mastered the fundamentals in 1st grade and 2nd grade, and is now ready to thrive through 3rd grade! But it’s not just another year: This grade is a very important time in your child’s education, because it’s when students transition from what are often known as the “lower grades” to the “upper grades.” It is a crucial period in students’ learning as they become more independent and mature learners.

In 3rd grade, students progress from practicing basic skills to mastering them, and move on to develop more complex skills.В

Read on for what to expect this year, and shop all books and resources for third grade at The Scholastic Store.В

For more book and reading ideas,В sign upВ for our Scholastic Parents newsletter.

Reading in 3rd GradeВ

After mastering literacy skills in earlier grades, 3rd graders become better and more independent readers. Third grade reading focuses on teaching kids how to think and talk about what they read in deeper and more detailed ways. Students read longer texts, and most read fictional chapter books.

Many reading lessons in 3rdВ grade are dedicated to writing and talking about the meanings, lessons, and important ideas in texts. Third graders are encouraged to develop their own points of view about books they read, and to discuss their ideas about a text or characters.В Series books are important in 3rd grade, because they allow students to make connections between different books and talk about how certain characters develop. As 3rd graders explore a greater range of books and longer texts, they become more fluent readers and learn to read, define, and pronounce complex words.

To build reading skills, your 3rd grader:

  • Reads multi-syllable and grade-appropriate, irregularly spelled wordsВ (ask your child’s teacher for a list of these words).
  • Reads grade-level text with appropriate pace, accuracy, expression, and understanding.
  • Self-corrects mistakes and re-reads when necessary.
  • Talks about and answers questions about a text using specific examples from the text and connects different parts of a text.
  • Reads a variety of texts including, fiction, non-fiction, fables, and poetry, and understands and talks about their main ideas and lessons.
  • Begins to understand the difference between literal and non-literal textВ such as metaphors and analogies.
  • Uses the text and context to determine the meaning of words.
  • Is able to express their own point of view about characters or a text.
  • Makes comparisons between books written by the same author and books in series that are about the same characters.

Third Grade Reading Activities

Get Serious About Series: Find a series that interests your child and begin to read it together. You can read to your child, your child can read to you, or they can read a chapter independently. You can even interview each other as you read — ask about main ideas, events, and thoughts you each have about the books and characters.

Look It Up: When your child encounters a word they don’t know the meaning of, look up the meaning together. Use a grade-appropriate tool like the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary — or you can even keep your own family dictionary, recording words and their definitions. Use the word yourself, or encourage your child to use that word in a sentence sometime during the day.

Learn About an Author: As your child develops favorite authors, look online for that author’s website. They can email or write a letter to the author (under your supervision).

Writing in 3rd Grade

Third graders continue to practice writing the pieces they learned to do in 2nd grade, but now also write longer ones with more detail. What’s more, 3rd graders learn increasingly sophisticated language, using phrases and terms to provide examples and make connections within their writing.

More time is spent on planning, revising, and editing texts in 3 rd grade — and as a result, your child learns the “writing process” authors go through. Students may spend a long period of time (say, a few weeks) working on one piece. They also practice writing pieces in shorter periods of time in class and through homework. Third graders continue to use and become comfortable with technology as they employ computers for writing pieces and doing research.

To build writing skills, your 3rd grader:

  • Writes a variety types of texts including:
    • Opinion Pieces: Students introduce their opinions, note the reasons for those opinions, and provide a conclusion.
    • Narrative Pieces: Students write about an event, using descriptive details, feelings, and proper order — and ultimately provide a conclusion.
    • Informative/Explanatory Pieces: Students introduce a topic and use facts, definitions, and, if helpful, illustrations to further explain the topic, eventually leading to a conclusion.В В
  • Uses terms such as:В becausesince, for example, also, another,В andВ butВ to elaborate on and make connections in their writing.В
  • Plans, revises, and edits their writing, going through the same process that most writers do.
  • Uses digital tools (under the guidance of the teacher) to publish their writing and interact and communicate with others.
  • Begins to take notes and do research for short research projects.
  • Spends various amounts of time writing a piece, ranging from a short period of timeВ (such as 30 minutes) to working on one piece over the course of a few weeks.

Third Grade Writing Activities

Write About Your Lives: When your family experiences an enjoyable or important moment, you and your child can write about it together in a narrative piece. Describe the events that occurred using details and emotion, then send the piece to family members or friends to share the event and the writing.

Get Technical: Help your child use a computer to research a topic or communicate with friends and family. Your third grader can also use the computer to write their own pieces or pieces you write together.

Learn How to Do Something New: Pick something fun you and your child want to learn how to do, like drawing cartoons.В Research the topic online or in a book together and create an informative piece, explaining the subject. You can then do the project yourselves or teach another family member or friend using the piece you and your child wrote.В В

Shop the best resources for second grade below! You can find all books and activities atВ The Scholastic Store.В

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Your students are reading. Hooray! Writing about reading has research-proven benefits, and it’s important that we ask students to respond to reading on a regular basis. Those responses don’t always have to be formal, though. Let’s take a look at some ways we can engage students in creative written responses to reading.

Booksnaps are not traditional writing assignments. Basically, students snap a photo of a page they are reading and reflecting upon. The writing portion comes in when students show – through emojis, sentences, symbols, hashtags, etcetera – how they are thinking about the what they are reading.

The goal of many booksnaps is to help students make connections and think more deeply, but I’ve also seen them used for other purposes. Ideally, when a student looks back on a booksnap a year or so after reading that text, he or she can still remember what they read on that page and why they reacted to it in that particular way.

Want to introduce them to students? I wrote out the details in this introduction to booksnaps blog post.

Why not leverage what is relevant to students? Social media seems to be ubiquitous for all ages. Teachers can ask students to demonstrate command of literary element analysis through social media style posts.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

For example, if students create a Spotify playlist for a text, they can talk about how the songs overall relate to the theme of the story. During reading, students might choose a song that relates to the current mood, character development, setting, internal conflict, or plot events. Asking students to elaborate on their choices gives us a window into their thinking.

With one pagers, students represent as much of their understanding as possible on (as the name indicates…) one blank page. They combine drawings, colors, quotes, and responses in a unified manner. Typically, students select an overarching theme and/or symbol to bring cohesiveness to their responses.

One pagers can be a little intimidating if you’ve never created them before. Last year, I experimented with different scaffolding methods to find out what students needed in order to be successful with making them. In doing so, I found that providing a menu of options for what to include was helpful. Also, students appreciated specific brainstorming questions, suggestions, and space.

One pagers are perfect for responses to both fiction and nonfiction texts. If you want to know more about how I scaffolded one pagers for my students, you can read this post. Or, check out this article if you’re looking for digital solutions.

With the right prompts, journaling about reading can be fun. I use journal prompts as ways to check in with my students during choice reading units. They give me insight as to how students are thinking about their books as well as whether or not they are able to pull textual evidence to shape their responses.

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

We don’t always need to grade journal prompts, but when we do, we need something quick and easy. They aren’t essays, so we don’t want to sit for hours grading them like they are. One solution I’ve found is to embed a simple rubric at the bottom of the page so that expectations are clear for students and grading is quick for me. Another quick tip is creating a common comment bank you can copy and paste from. No sense re-inventing the wheel when your feedback is targeted on a specific concept!

During reading, students can use graphic organizers to help them focus on targeted skills. For instance, if we want them to work on comprehension, we can give students graphic organizers that prompt thinking about summarizing, inferring, visualizing, cause and effect, and more!

Graphic organizers are also helpful for scaffolding complex or multi-step standards. In order for students to analyze how dialogue impacts suspense and action in a story, they first need to consider what characters are saying as well as the mood of the story. Try these digital literary element graphic organizers with middle and high school students.

We can ask students to respond to reading in so many different ways. Why not make some of them creative? Whenever possible, use response-to reading assignments to deepen students’ love for both reading AND writing.

There’s a word for an entrepreneur who can’t negotiate. That word is “toast.”

How to read non‐fiction books effectively

Your ability to negotiate with your bosses, investors, customers and colleagues determines whether your career or your business flies high or falls flat. These are the seven books about negotiation that every entrepreneur should own, read and master:

How to read non‐fiction books effectively1. Getting More

Subtitle: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life

Author: Stuart Diamond

Why It’s Worth Reading: The book challenges a lot of the common conceptions about negotiating, including the famous win-win bromides and the “BATNA” (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) theory. Rather than attempting to impose a solution through the use of power, this book starts from the viewpoint that the other person’s emotions and perceptions must be respected and negotiated towards.

Best Quote: “Whenever almost anything, don’t you wonder if there’s more? It doesn’t have to mean more for me and less for you. Just has to be, well, more. And it doesn’t necessarily mean more money. It means more of whatever you value: more money, more time, more food, more travel, more responsibility, more basketball, more TV, more music. This book is about more: how you define it, how you get it, how you keep it.”

How to read non‐fiction books effectively2. Crucial Conversations

Subtitle: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

Authors: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

Why It’s Worth Reading: Because this is a general book about communicating effectively, it’s perfect for people who don’t normally negotiate. It emphasizes preparation, creating a safe environment to speak, and “transforming unpleasant emotions into powerful dialog” through persuasion rather than demands.

Best Quote: “Despite the importance of crucial conversations, we often back away from them because we fear we’ll make matters worse. We’ve become masters at avoiding tough conversations. Coworkers send e-mail to each other when they should walk down the hall and talk turkey. Bosses leave voice mail in lieu of meeting with their direct reports. Family members change the subject with an issue gets too risky. We use all kinds of tactics to dodge touchy issues.”

How to read non‐fiction books effectively3. Influence

Subtitle: The Psychology of Persuasion

Author: Robert B. Cialdini

Why It’s Worth Reading: More than the other books in this collection, Influence is about sales negotiations. It lays out the psychology of positioning prior to a sales negotiation as well as the specific formulae that drive a sales negotiation to a successful conclusion. A must read and one of my all-time favorites.

Best Quote: “It is much more profitable for salespeople to present the expensive item first, not only because to fail to do so will lose the influence of the contrast principle; to fail to do so will also cause the principle to work actively against them. Presenting an inexpensive product first and following it with an expensive one will cause the expensive item to seem even more costly as a result.”

How to read non‐fiction books effectively4. Bargaining for Advantage

Subtitle: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People

Author: G. Richard Shell

Why It’s Worth Reading: This books starts from the idea that you must first “know thyself” before you try to negotiate with others. It identifies five styles of negotiating and provides tools to help you understand which ones work for you under different circumstances. As a result, the book is a good prerequisite for making the best use of the other books in this list.

Best Quote: “Your personal negotiation style is a critical variable in bargaining. If you don’t know what your instincts and intuitions will tell you to do under different conditions, you will have a great deal of trouble planning effective strategies and responses.”

How to read non‐fiction books effectively5. Getting to Yes

Subtitle: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Authors: Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

Why It’s Worth Reading: Beyond doubt this is the most influential book on negotiating ever written, so much so that most business readers will already be familiar with its basic concept, the proverbial “win-win” negotiation.

Best Quote: “The method of principled negotiation is to decide issues on their merits rather than through a haggling process focused on what each side says it will and won’t do. It suggests that you look for mutual gains whenever possible, and that where you interests conflict, you should insist that the result be based upon some fair standards independent of the will of either side.”

How to read non‐fiction books effectively6. Never Split the Difference

Subtitle: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Authors: Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

Why It’s Worth Reading: This book is largely a reaction to, and against, the conventional wisdom in Getting to Yes. Rather than assuming that people understand their own interests and act according to them, the writers approach the negotiation process as a phenomenon that’s only understood as a set of essentially irrational and emotional responses.

Best Quote: “When business schools began teaching negotiation in the 1980s, the process was presented as a straightforward economic analysis. It was a period when the world’s top academic economists declared that we were all ‘rational actors.’ And so it went in negotiation classes: assuming the other side was acting rationally and selfishly in trying to maximize its position, the goal was to figure out how to respond in various scenarios to maximize one’s own value. [However,] humans all suffer from Cognitive Bias, that is, unconscious–and irrational–brain processes that literally distort the way we see the world.”

How to read non‐fiction books effectively7. Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands

Subtitle: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries

Authors: Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway

Why It’s Worth Reading: Finally, there’s no doubt that negotiating styles different from country to country. This book helps you understand the thought processes and protocols that you’ll encounter while dealing with a global economy. Indispensable stuff.

To non-critical readers, many texts offer the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
To the critical reader, any single text provides but one portrayal of the facts, one individual’s “take” on the subject.

Critical reading is an analytic activity. The reader rereads a text to identify patterns of elements — information, values, assumptions, and language usage– throughout the discussion. These elements are tied together in an interpretation, an assertion of an underlying meaning of the text as a whole.

Critical thinking involves bringing outside knowledge and values to bear to evaluate the presentation and decide what to ultimately accept as true. shows you how to recognize what a text says, what a text does, and what a text means
by analyzing choices of content, language, and structure. It shows you what to look for, and how to think about what you find.

Alternative Indexes to the Site

Critical Reading: The Steps Principles of Critical Reading Example: Portraying Charles Drew

Everyone complains that students cannot read well…
and yet most high schools and colleges offer no course in critical reading.
This is the website for just such a course.