Summer reading...

Well, summer's moving on (too quickly). Want to know how to get the most out of your summer reading? Try this:
  1. Google the title of your book to see what background information on your novel is out there. It's always okay to use Spark Notes and other summary sites as long as you're also really reading the book. Bottom line is comprehension. If you've read a summary, you know ahead of time what the action is going to be, and the narrative will make more sense.
  2. Focus on the main idea of the chapter or action; don't let yourself get bogged down in details. Look up key words you don't understand. 
  3. Try to place the book in cultural and historical context. What was going on in the author's world at the time? What influenced his/her thinking and world view?
  4. Ask yourself how the author accomplishes his or her purpose. What is the tone of the work; what words or pattern of words does s/he use to create an effect? What literary devices?
  5. Make connections. Does this novel remind you of any others you've read? Can you relate it to current or historical events, or works of music and art? Are there any similarities to things that you've experienced in your own life?
  6. Keep a good reader's journal. Write down questions and connections that come up as you read, and note quotes or actions that intrigue you. You'll be surprised how many questions you'll be able to answer yourself by the time you get to the end of the book.
  7. If you can find someone else who's read the same book, discuss it with them. What are their questions? How do they respond to the work?
  8. Most important, relax and enjoy the book. You will find that you like some authors better than others and like some of their works better than others. It's also okay not to like a book. Because a book is on a reading list does not mean it's sacrosanct. Your taste in books will change as you grow and mature. You'll read the same books five or ten years from now and get something completely different out of them.

It's okay if you don't get everything, but the idea is that you're reading critically and thoughtfully. Let me know if you have any questions. 
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