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Active Reading: How NOT to fall ASLEEP while Reading

If reading makes you fall asleep or you easily get bored while reading or you can’t focus, feel fidgety or get easily distracted when you read; we’ll show you 3 easy methods of Active Reading to help you engage the material, remember what you read and stay awake while you read.

how not to fall asleep when reading
Source: Bolton, K.A.. Ratman and Robin The Attack of Catman and the Meows. 2019. USA.


In this article we’re going to be talking to you about the art of active reading and we’ll be showing you the best 3 methods for active reading.

Before we jump into the methods, let’s define active reading. Active reading means engaging the material you are trying to understand, remember and focus on. So this can be PowerPoint slides, textbooks, or actual books or magazine.

These methods will help you better understand what you’re reading, not fall asleep while you’re reading and actually focus and remember what you have read and what you are trying to read.

These methods are great if you don’t like to read and you need a more interactive way to keep keep you focused and tuned in, if you’d like to read a novel or if have an exam to study for but you’re not remembering what you’re read or if you need to read boring research papers.

Let’s jump into the 3 best methods of active reading.

1. The Read/Summary method

2. The Memory Boost method

3. The Highlighter method

The Read/Summary Method

In the Read/Summary Method, for each paragraph you read, you should summarize in the margin. If you cannot do so in the book, I suggest just getting like a blank sheet of paper and write the summary of each paragraph on the blank paper.

You can write the summary of the paragraphs in the margin of the book, if you don’t mind. You can always use a pencil and erase what you write afterwards. Or if you simply can’t write on the book, alternatively you can get a sheet of paper and write the summary on that paper.

Active Reading with Ratman and Robin The Attack of Catman and the Meows
Summarize Each Paragraph. Source: Bolton, K.A.. Ratman and Robin The Attack of Catman and the Meows. 2019. USA.

You’re just going to right a really quick summary of what you understood from the paragraph.

You do not have to make the summary pretty, and they do not have to be coherent or elaborate. It can be simple and concise. This is just a way you can engage the material and you can erase your notes after.

The point of active reading is while you go through the material, you need to remember as much as you can, you need to engage and focus on as much as you can from what you’re reading.

By doing this method, you just engaged your hand, your sense of touch and feelings. And when you engage your senses while you read, not only does it make you focus on the material, but it makes you think critically and remember what you you read. It’s because your mind doesn’t only remember what your eyes tell you and it also remembers what your hand gesture tells you. 

So just make little side notes on every paragraph. Or if you don’t want to make the notes on every paragraph, you can make the notes every time you think you’re getting sidetracked or you’re not remembering what you read. 

The Memory Boost Method

In this method, we’re going to be engaging our feeling, our touch and getting ourselves into what we’re reading. This is our most used method out of the three method. This method works best for reading and remembering keywords and lists, especially if you’ll be studying for a test. What you need to do is to get a sheet of blank paper or any page you can write on and list on that paper the keywords in the book.

Write a List of keywords
List the keywords

This is a big deal on memory for keywords and list because you’re writing the words and engaging  your hands and your minds. So two things are being done here, you’re using your sense of touch and feeling to write these words, and your mind is processing and registering what you’re writing and remembering, so essentially your engaging your senses to retain what you just read.

Test your memory, on another section of the paper, try to recall the list of keywords by writing them down. Don’t remember them all? Write down what you remember. Take a look back at the book or the powerpoint slides to see what you go right, what you got wrong and what you forgot.

Fill in the blanks with the correct answer. Rewrite the list again.Keep doing it, test yourself again. Keep doing it until you remember more and more of the keywords.

The Highlighter Method

Finally, the last method we are going to be talking to you about is called the Highlighter method. With this method you’re going to highlight and color the code terms or things that are going to be important. This engages your hands, your touch and your feelings. Plus it’s fun!

If you want to say these terms aloud, that adds another stimulus that engages you, like your auditory; hearing, ears. Even if people look at you weird in the library, give it a shot. The key here is to engage as many senses as you can when you’re reading. Think about it like a game. Have Fun with it!

You can use any colors, any highlighters you want. If you cannot use color or highlighters on your book, an alternative is to use a pencil and at the end you can always erase it.

Highlight Important Keywords
Highlight Important Keywords

So the idea is to highlight each different key term with a different color. In the case, where you are using a pencil, to differentiate things you can use different shapes. For example, you can draw a circle around one term, underline another terms, shade another term, etc.This is engaging the material. The terms stands out when you do this. At least you know what to look for. It’s kind of like a pinpointing things. And again, our goal here is to keep you awake.

Another fun way to do this if you have time and energy, you can draw the objects. So if it’s a rat, a cat, a house, a stove, a baby, you can draw the objects. By drawing, it will definitely engage your senses and help you remember the terms/what you read right away.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Rinora Ride

    Thanks for the suggestions. I find it hard to stay awake at nights to read. After a hard day at work, all you want to do is sleep when you reach home.

    1. chavena

      I totally know what you mean Rinora! I am happy we could help!

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