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Reading Comprehension Struggles as an Adult

Good afternoon, all! How was your weekend? Did you get a lot of reading done?

I wanted to post something different this week. Most of my family and friends may already be familiar with my lifelong struggles with reading comprehension, but not you guys. The first time that I distinctly remember failing a test because of reading comprehension was in the fourth grade. I had received a 64% on a test where I had to answer comprehension questions based on what I had read. It was only when I failed that reading test that a teacher (then a board sub because my original teacher was on maternity leave) finally alerted my mom to my struggles with reading comprehension.

Even now, I still struggle with reading comprehension as an adult. My sister has an extremely good recall of all the books that she’s read, but I just don’t remember books unless I have recently read them. I may be able to tell you major plot points, but everything else is moot. It seems that either I don’t comprehend what I’ve read or I don’t retain the information. For those reasons, I have had to devise strategies to ensure that I am comprehending what I am reading. Below, I have listed just some of the strategies that I use.

  1. Audiobooks. I tend to comprehend stories better if I’m multitasking (i.e. listening to a story and doing something else at the same time). Most of the time, I’m driving or coloring on my iPad . Recently, I’ve even had to adjust the speed, going from 1.75x to 1.2x because the higher speed was causing me to miss major plot points (I often found myself rewinding the narration because the story had become confusing). I have also found that it sometimes helps to even read the novel along with the narration. I do tend to read faster than the narrator, so I usually just speed up the audio if I’m doing that.
  2. Slowing reading and/or rereading. I have to forcibly slow myself down when I’m reading. Like most of my generation, I tend to skim read – skip around before I read a whole page. Slowing my reading allows me to ensure that I do not miss any major points. It’s probably not the best strategy, but it works. Along with slowing my reading, I’ll reread passages until I understand what is going on. If I think I’ve missed something, I will go back and reread a section again to fill in any missing gaps.
  3. Keeping notes and/or writing reviews. The couple of times that I have actually kept notes was really helpful. The only problem with this strategy was that I found the entire process to be too tedious and I could not make it a consistent habit. For me, what does work is writing reviews. My reviews usually consist of a summary written in my own words and the story elements that I liked.
  4. Read, read, and read! Did I mention that you need to read? The best advice that my mom ever gave me was to keep reading. Because of her persistence to have me keep reading, I’ve been an avid reader since I was young. Even now, I can often be found reading a book (I’ve read almost 100 books this year!).

While the strategies that I’ve suggested might not work for everyone, it’s something to try. Have you struggled with reading comprehension? What strategies have you found to be successful in increasing your reading comprehension? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for new strategies to implement.

Published by Rachael

Hello, all! I'm 1/3 of Always, Bookish Lovers. Currently, I will be starting work in October at a public library in my area. In the near future, I plan to go back to school to get a Masters in Library and Information Science so I can become a librarian. Along with the blog, I'm pretty active on Instagram. If you'd like to check out our Instagram, it is linked below for you.

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