How to Read Fiction

 Choose with Intention

A. Ask yourself, ‘Why am I reading this?”

1. To entertain myself?

2. To learn more about a topic or a time?

3. To feel better about myself or about life in general?

4. To be open to seeing life differently? 

B. Begin…

1. check the outside of the book or journal

What on the cover or the flyleaf gives you clues about what is inside? What is the genre of the novel?

2. check for reputation

What are the author’s qualifications? Who is the publisher?

3. scan the verso of the title page

Is there CIP information, giving you a summary and some subject headings?

4. scan the layout

Is the style and size of the font comfortable for you to read? Are the margins large enough? Are the lines spaced far enough apart? Are there illustrations?

5. scan the style

Is the story told in the first person or third person point of view?  Is it told in present tense of past tense?  How much of the story is told through conversation? How long are the paragraphs?  How long are the chapters?

6. think about what you already know about the topic

Stop and think about your background knowledge. How might this book or article add to your understanding of human nature? How might it change your opinion about a topic? What would you be interested in discovering as you read?

7. predict what is coming

Think about what might happen in the story. Will the main character change in the story?  Will there be a happy ending?  Will the story serve the purpose for which you are reading?


C. Read further…

1. Slow down if there are difficult words or complex sentences.

2. Use the context to figure out the meaning of new words.

Is the word a verb or a noun? 

Is it essential to understanding the main idea or is it a supporting detail?

Is it a name that you need to remember?

Is there a definition in an appositive after the word?

Is the definition in the margin? 

Is there an illustration?

Is an example given which makes the meaning clear?

Can you just skip the word and still get the main idea?

3. Make mental pictures of what you are reading.

4. Notice powerful language.

5. Go back and reread if something does not make sense or if your mind wanders away for awhile

D. Think about what you are reading…

1. Stop occasionally and think about any sentences that seem to describe real life. Think about how you have experienced similar events or emotions or relationships.

2. Think about how the theme relates to what you already know about life.

Does it agree or disagree with your prior knowledge?

Does it add more evidence for an opinion you already had?

Does it disagree with your opinion? What is the evidence?

3. Is it time to change your mind about an opinion?

4. Is it time to change your habits or behaviour?


E. Respond

1. If your teacher has given you questions to answer, analyze them.

Will the answers be on the lines, right there in the text?

Will the answers be between the lines, so that you have to figure them out from clues in the text?

Will the answers be beyond the lines, so that you have to use your background knowledge to make connections?

2. Make connections to the text.

“This reminds me of…”

“I already knew that…”

“This is different than…”

“This is similar to…”

“I think that…”

3. Review.

What is the author’s message?

What is the evidence?

Do you have reason to trust or mistrust the evidence?

How does your new understanding of life affect your view of the world?

How might that knowledge affect your behaviour?

Did the story the story serve the purpose for which you were reading?

What kind of story do you want to read next?

 [This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided: ©2012 Sophie Rosen.]


Author. Title. City: Publisher, date.

B. DECIDE ON THE GOAL (Choose and provide details.)

__ Entertain the mind
__ Inform the mind
__ Heal the heart
__ Feed the soul

C. PICK UP THE BOOK (Provide details.)
1. Cover appeal

2. Reputation of author and publisher

3. Layout

4. Style of writing

5. Your background knowledge

6. Predictions (Note any sentences that gave you clues to what was coming in the book.)

1. Figure out words
__ words I figured out from the context:

__ words I didn’t know and realized I did not need to know

2. Make mental pictures

3. Note powerful language (Include examples and page numbers.)
__ alliteration:

__ consonance and assonance:

__ repetition for effect:

__ powerful words:

__ similes and metaphors:

__ very short sentences for effect:

4. Go back and reread (Note any sections you had to read more than once.)

Sentences true to life  (Copy and add the page numbers.)

Opinions and emotions expressed (Note the opinions about life and the feelings in the novel.)

Changes in your general knowledge, opinions, emotions or outlook (Note how the book affected you. Provide evidence from the book.)

Make connections (Provide a thoughtful and detailed response.)

How have you changed?  (What difference has this book made to your life?)

Did the book serve the purpose you chose?

What kind of book do you want next?

 [This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided: ©2012 Sophie Rosen.]



___ entertain the mind
___ inform the mind
___ heal the heart
___ feed the soul
___ book cover
___ reputation of author
___ reputation of publisher
___ layout: margins
___ layout: space between lines
___ font sizes
___ font style
___ illustrations
___ first paragraph
___ background knowledge
___ connections
___ point of view (1,2,3)
___ tense (past, present)
___ narration/conversation
___length of paragraphs
___ vocabulary: context
___ vocabulary: not essential
___ alliteration
___ consonance/assonance
___ repetition
___ powerful words
___ metaphors/similes
___ varied sentence length
___ make mental pictures
___ slow down
___ reread
___ stop and think
___ note emotions
___ inferences
___ predictions
___ sentences true to life
___ connections
___ changes in your viewpoint
___ purpose for next novel
©2013 Sophie Rosen


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