Course Content
Private: BA Arabic
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Unit 2
Types of Reading: Methods and Techniques Involved in Reading

Learning Outcomes

Upon the completion of this unit, the learner will be able to

  • understand different types of reading and their specialities
  • identify the methods of reading for each type of reading
  • conduct an effective reading of texts according to various reading objectives


Why do we read? That question appears as weird as questioning “why breathe?” to many of us. Reading, for instance, the reading of literature, has been part of our life, family, school, and community for as long as we can remember. Of course, there are those who argue that what today’s students need is preparation for the “real world,” and make them skilled for employment or livelihood. Hence, they get prepared for the same and, meanwhile, overlook the importance of reading and the positive changes it causes both in personal and professional life. Reading opens windows to worlds outside students’ experience and it reflects the world they already know. It also prepares students for the personal challenges and moral dilemmas they are likely to face. In this unit, we are going to learn different types of reading and their specialities.

Key words

Reading, Types, Methods, Skimming, Scanning, Close-reading, Amusive, Between lines.


There are numerous reading materials available, including newspapers, novels, periodicals, pamphlets, articles, tracts, and even advertisements. By considering the content in each material and also the reading objective of the reader, the method and nature of the reading vary. All reading must involve some level of active mind and focus because reading in general is a form of exercise. It is not feasible to read completely passively with our eyes shut and our minds asleep. Reading is best when it is active. One reader is superior to another in proportion to the extent to which he or she can read with a wider range of attention and puts forth more effort. As with writing, reading is also a complex process. It comprises many different actions that must all be executed in an effective and active reading. The more of them you can do, the better reader you are. The following sections in this unit will discuss various types of reading:

2.2.1 Skimming

Skimming is fast reading, sometimes skipping portions, for a general comprehension or appreciation of a text. Some books should be read fast, while others should be read at a pace that allows for thorough comprehension. Many books are not worth even skimming. Speed reading techniques can assist you in resolving this issue because it is wasteful to read a book slowly when it is only suitable for a quick read. It is usually a good idea to skim or preread a book; this is especially important when you are unsure about the relevance of the book you are currently holding. Skimming will reveal to you the worth of the book. In order to obtain a sense of a book’s shape and structure, it is typically advisable to skim even a book that you intend to read carefully.

While skimming a book, your major goal is to determine whether a closer reading of the text is necessary. Second, even if you decide not to read the book again carefully, skimming can still provide you with a wealth of additional information about it. This type of reading is employed in reading fiction, reading a news story, etc. Here are some ideas to conduct a skim reading of a book:

  1. Read the title page and the preface of the book.
  2. Go through the table of contents to avail a general idea of the book’s content;
  3. Reading the Index page will give you an outline of the themes addressed, the types of books and writers referenced, and get a broad sense of the structure of the book.
  4. Now that you have a general but still somewhat hazy understanding of the book’s substance, look at the chapters that seem to be pivotal to its argument. If the introductory or concluding pages of these chapters have summary statements, read them carefully

2.2.2 Scanning

Scanning is going through lines, paragraphs, and pages quickly, but not thoroughly, to find out some specific information. While scanning we do not read the whole text, but only a few lines, which contain the information that we are looking for. The movement of our eyes is fast and we pause and focus only on the relevant lines or parts. Referring to a dictionary and reading a user’s manual are examples of this type of reading.

Scanning can be also used for studies and research-related reading. Like skimming, it also makes use of structural hints and keywords. However, while the objective of skimming is to get a bird’s-eye view of the content, the objective of scanning is to find and focus on specific data. If you have doubts about whether the book is likely to include the details you require, skim it first. Don’t forget to read the headings, tables of contents, indexes, and typographic clues. Lists and tables can be understood better if you first skim them to determine their order, such as alphabetical, chronological, or most-to-least. After skimming, if you determine the information will be beneficial, scan it. In the following, the method of scanning a text or document is described.

  1. Understand what you want to find. Select a few essential phrases or words—or, if you prefer, search terms. During the scanning process, you will be a living, breathing search engine.
  2. Only one keyword should be searched at a time. Do numerous scans if you want to look for multiple keywords.
  3. Let your eyes scan the paper quickly until you spot the word or phrase you’re looking for.
  4. When you find a keyword that captures your attention, thoroughly examine the text around it.

2.2.3 Close Reading/Thorough Reading

In this method, we read the whole text, without skipping any part, and paying keen attention to every word, sentence and even punctuation mark, in order to understand the text as completely and deeply as possible. Close reading is the reverse of skimming a text and demands intense concentration. Short passages are usually used to conduct this type of reading. Close reading is significant since it facilitates readers in fully comprehending a text. The approach enables readers in understanding how an author consciously employed particular phrases and literary devices to highlight main concepts. A deep understanding of the material through close reading helps in critical analysis. Examples of close reading are reading prescribed texts for study and reading articles on important topics. Consider the following steps of close reading while practising it. Step 1: Read the text thoroughly

Readers should make an effort to comprehend the most crucial concepts and components of a text when reading it for the first time. Take for instance a novel, and while reading it, the readers should respond to the following questions:

  • What is the central theme or mes-sage of this passage?
  • In this passage, are there any characters or people? If so, what do they look like and who are they?
  • What exactly is going on in this passage? Do characters speak to one another? Is there movement?
  • How does this passage fit into the overall narrative? (If the reader has read the entire text of the section). Step 2: Understand patterns and methods

The reader should think about the patterns and methods they notice after reading the book for the first time. They could, for instance, examine the following questions:

  • Are there any recurring themes, keywords, or phrases? In such a case, why might the author have made this choice?
  • Is there any information in this book that is contradictory? What impact does that contrast have?
  • Does the author employ any literary tactics like metaphors or hyperbole? Step 3: Reread the passage

The reader becomes acquainted with the subject matter of the text during the first reading. The reader should read the full chapter a second time with a more deliberate focus on organisational patterns after taking note of patterns and strategies. When reading the section a second time, he or she should pay great attention to any repetition of certain words and consider how those repetitions affect the meaning of the text.

2.2.4 Amusive Reading

We read for pleasure. Such reading is known as Amusive Reading. For such reading, the choice of text is the reader’s preference. The reader may ignore unfamiliar words and expressions, and sometimes he/she even skips complex constructions and details. This can be also called ‘time-pass reading’. Reading a novel while travelling and a magazine while waiting for the bus are examples of amusive reading

2.2.5 Reading Between the Lines

This type of reading requires keen attention to every detail, for its purpose is to discover hidden meanings. The reader locates and specifically understands the author’s messages following certain suggestions and clues, which he or she discerns in some words, expressions, sentence constructions, punctuations, associations, etc. Such reading requires wide knowledge, an analytical and logical mind, and an eye for hidden matters. Cunningly written advertisements and riddles are examples of this type of reading.

2.2.6 Practical Session

We may read the same text differently, as in the case of time-pass reading of a novel, and reading the same novel for writing a critical appreciation of it. Students have to master all types of reading to be successful in their studies. Now let us see how each type of reading is practised. Read the following excerpt of a story and try to answer the questions as quickly as possible:

Oak didn’t wake up as he had wished. But Pola was there beside him, snoring harshly enough to annoy the beasts in the jungle. When Racy opened the door of their tiny room, what she saw disgusted her. She covered the boys with a sheet and stomped out, slamming the door. She went to Jaicy to complain, “Why were you so impatient to kick me out of bed so early, while your sons sing the devil’s song through the nose even at this late morning?” Grinding her teeth, she stamped through the narrow hall to the warm bright sun.

Q. 1. Who was Jaicy?

To find out the answer you can rush through the lines till the last sentence, where Racy calls the boys “your sons.” You scan the paragraph to find out the answer: Jaicy was the mother of Oak and Pola.

Q. 2. Was Racy composed?

Here the question is about mental state of Racy. You have to look for explicit or implicit pointers to the answer. You can ignore those parts of the paragraph, where Racy’s mental state is not dealt with. The last sentences express her actions and feelings and they contain the answer. You skim through the lines to reach the sentences to locate the answer: No, Racy was not composed.

Q. 3. What have you understood about the place, time and persons referred to in this paragraph?

To answer this question, you have to read the whole text carefully and with a focus on drawing all possible information about the place, time, and persons. The answer can be: The place is a rustic area near a jungle. The house is a small one, for the boys’ bedroom is tiny and the hall is narrow. The time is late morning, as Racy tells. Jaicy, her sons Oak and Pola, and Racy are the characters mentioned here. Racy can be Jaicy’s daughter. Jaisy is a conventional mother who thinks that women are responsible for all household chores and for maintaining traditional practices. They are not as privileged as men. So she imposes her authority on Racy, rather harshly, and leaves the boys to enjoy their sleep as long as they want. Racy is strong-headed and rebels against the discrimination between the boys and herself. After the expression of her anger, she steps out to the warm and bright sun, suggesting that she is right and her wish will be fulfilled. Oak can be a lazy boy. He wished to get up early but did not. Even Pola’s loud and harsh snoring does not irritate him and makes him get out of bed. Maybe he was not sleeping, but lying lazily. Pola is a divine sleeper, who is least bothered about time and others’ conveniences. The boys do not show any sense of responsibility. Perhaps they are little boys.

Q. 4. What made Racy disgusted?

There are suggestions about the reasons for Racy’s disgust. Pola’s loud and harsh snoring and the boys sleeping even in the late morning are explicit reasons. One suggestion is that in their oblivious sleep they were not decently covered. That is why, though disgusted, she covers them with a sheet. But the most important reason is Jaisy’s discrimination against her in favour of the boys. To arrive at these answers, you have to read the text with wisdom and keenness. Some explicit clues and some hidden suggestions are there to be considered. The explicit reasons will strike you while skimming and the implicit ones will be understood only when you read between the lines.

Q. 5. Will Racy be disgusted forever?

The end of the paragraph is a clear indication that Racy will get all the peace and happiness that she wishes for. When she gets out of the tiny, rustic house to the wide and beautiful nature, what awaits her is the warm and bright sun, a shiny promise. Your ability to read between the lines will take you to the right conclusions.

Q. 6. What technique has the author employed to emphasise optimism?

The author has employed contrasting images to emphasise his/her optimism. The first image of two irresponsible boys in bed in the late morning, indecently covered and snoring irritatingly; the idea that the place is a rustic forest land; the narrow hall and the smaller bedroom; and the discriminatory wielding of authority by Jaicy suggest bleakness, whereas the exterior to which Racy steps out is warm and bright. This contrast between the interior and the exterior of the house clearly suggests the author’s optimism.

Q. 7. What can be the author’s intention?

To understand the author’s intention clearly and completely, a thorough reading of the text is necessary as several strains of ideas, perspectives, thoughts, etc. can be hidden behind some suggestions, clues, words, expressions and punctuations. Considering all such elements, we can conclude that the author’s intention is to bring to light the following ideas: discrimination against women will not stand long, the success of the agitators against such discrimination is the promise of a bright future, the bleakness of life is in the interior of man, not in the wide, warm beautiful nature, and living in tune with nature is the only way to get a happy, contented life.

You can reach more such conclusions by analysing each and every part of the text. The modern concept is that the author’s authority ends when the text comes to the reader. It is the reader who finds meaning in texts.


  • There are two broad categories of reading: active reading and passive reading.
  • Various types of reading: Skimming, Scanning, Close reading, Amusive reading and Reading between the lines.
  • Skimming is fast reading, sometimes skipping portions, for a general comprehension or appreciation of a text.
  • Scanning is going through lines, paragraphs, and pages quickly, but not thoroughly, to find out some specific information.
  • Close reading means reading the whole text, without skipping any part, and paying keen attention to all textual elements in order to understand thoroughly and deeply.
  • Amusive reading is meant as reading for pleasure in free time.
  • Reading between the lines means giving keen attention to every detail of the text to discover hidden meanings with textual suggestions and clues.
  • There are three steps to practising close reading: 1. Read the text thoroughly. 2. Understand patterns and methods. 3. Reread the passage.

Objective Questions

  1. Which form of reading is the best?
  2. What is the fast reading, sometimes skipping portions, for a general comprehen-sion or appreciation of a text known as?
  3. Name a type of book in which skimming can be used.
  4. What is the type of reading in which you go through lines, paragraphs, and pag-es quickly to find out some specific information known as?
  5. What is an example of a scanning type of reading?
  6. If you have doubts about whether the book is likely to include the details you require, what would you do then?
  7. What is the reverse of skimming a text?
  8. What type of reading will help the critical analysis of a book?
  9. What is the third step in the process of close reading?
  10. What is the type of reading used to discover hidden meanings in a text?


  1. Active reading
  2. Skimming
  3. Fiction
  4. Scanning
  5. Referring to a dictionary
  6. Skimming
  7. Close reading
  8. Close reading
  9. Rereading passage
  10. Reading between the lines


  1. What are the benefits of skimming a book?
  2. Write some ideas to conduct a skim reading of a book.
  3. Differentiate between skimming and scanning.
  4. Explain Amusive reading and Reading between the lines with examples.
  5. Discuss the various steps involved in the close reading a novel.
  6. Write in detail about the method of scanning a text.

Suggested Reading

  1. Adler, Mortimer J and Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book, Simon & Schuster, 1940.
  2. Usman, M. and John Davidson, How to Read a Book – What Book Should I Read?, Mendon Cottage Books, 2016.
  3. Burnell, Carol, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker and Nicole Rosevear. The Word on College Reading and Writing, Open Oregon Education-al Resources, 2020.