What is Critical Reading?
Critical reading means that a reader applies specific processes, models, questions, and theories to enhance clarity and comprehension. There is more involvement, both in effort and understanding, in a critical reading than in an ordinary “skimming” of the text. What is the difference? If a reader “skims” the text, trivial characteristics and knowledge are as far as the reader goes. A critical reading gets at “deep structure,” that is, logical consistency, tone, organization, and several other significant sounding terms. Critical reading is similar to critical pedagogy.
What does one need to do to be a critical reader? There is a range of answers available to this question; here are suggested steps:
- Become part of the writer’s world
Authors design texts for explicit audiences, and becoming a member of the target audience makes it easier to understand the author’s purpose. Learn about the author, the author’s history and the text, and the anticipated audience; read introductions and notes.
- Read with an open mind
Critical readers pursue knowledge; they do not “rewrite” a work to suit their personalities. As an enlightened critical reader, your task is to read what is on the page, giving the author a fair chance to develop ideas and permitting yourself to reflect thoughtfully and objectively on the text.
- Think about the title
This may seem apparent, but the title may provide clues to the author’s attitude, goals, personal viewpoint, or approach.
- Read at your own pace
Again, this appears apparent but is a factor in a “close reading.” By -+ down, you will make more connections within the text.
- Use the dictionary
If there is a word in the manuscript that is not clear or tough to define in context: look it up. Every word is significant, and if part of the text is abundant with technical terms, it is essential to know how the author uses them.
- Take notes
Jot down marginal notes, underline, write down ideas in a notebook, and do whatever works for your taste. Note the main ideas, the thesis, and the author’s main points to support the theory. Writing while reading aids your memory in several ways, especially by making a link that is indistinct in the text concrete in your own writing.
- Start a reading journal
Recording your responses and thoughts in a more perpetual place that is yours to consult is helpful. Both skills will improve by developing a habit of reading and writing in conjunction.
Critical reading includes using logical and rhetorical skills. Recognizing the author’s thesis is a good place to start, but grasping how the author intends to support it is a difficult task. An author will make a claim and back it up in the body of the manuscript. The support for the writer’s claim is in the evidence given to suggest that the writer’s intended argument is sound or sensibly acceptable. What ties these two together is a sequence of logical links that convinces the reader of the consistency of the writer’s argument: this is the warrant. If the author’s premise is not supportable, critical reading will reveal the lapses in the text that show it to be unsound.