Tips for reading a textbook
For many students, reading a textbook is an arduous, overwhelming task. It doesn’t have to be! Follow these four simple pre-reading steps to make a textbook more accessible:
- First, set a purpose before you read. Why are you reading this text? For example, if you’re reading to answer specific questions, preview the questions before jumping into the text.
- Next, read the chapter title and section headers carefully. What do they tell you about the ideas/topics that are going to be covered? These are the main points that the author wants the reader to take-away. If the student is taking notes, these are likely her “headers.”
- Look for italicized or bold words and phrases, and consider why these words are highlighted. They will likely provide clues as to what is most important in the reading. For note-taking purposes, these words and phrases are likely the “supporting details.”
- Read pull-outs, diagrams, charts, tables, and other visual text features to gain a better sense of what’s most important in the text. These features often act as a preview of what’s coming up in the text and hint at where the student should pay extra attention.