The slow reading trend


You probably know about the slow eating craze, where you not only slow down to enjoy your food, but you connect with the origins of an item, like how it is harvested. Now, there's a group of people who think we read too fast, too. They are slowly trying to change that.

Professors Thomas Newkirk and David Mikics are so disturbed by our short attention spans, they both wrote books on a practice called 'slow reading.' According to Mikics, "What slow reading is is the deliberate practice of trying to get back to that kind of experience that you had as a kid, where you just feel completely absorbed by the literary work."

Newkirk adds, "It's not necessarily just about reading slowly, it's about having a relationship with what you're reading; you feel a connection to an author."

Some consider it a movement, with a growing number of groups from Italy to the U.S. People read and discuss, like a book club, only slower. There is research to show proven benefits in terms comprehension and retention, especially for students.

Kreigh Knerr sees the benefits all the time. He teaches a group of high schoolers how to go slow and steady. He said, "It really helps people to engage more complex ideas. They're used to being able to read 30 pages and it takes them, ya know, maybe an hour for the 30 pages, and then, all of a sudden, now, it's 10 pages or 15 pages that take up an hour."

Students say their high school work is easier because of the class, but they warn, there is a learning curve. Payson East is one of the students in the slow reading class. "The discipline it takes to slow read can be challenging at first, but it's very rewarding."

Amber Dieringer is another student. She added, "I wouldn't say getting into slow reading was extremely difficult, but it was a drastic change. I had to think more and I wasn't used to that."

How young is too young to slow the roll? Professor Newkirk says the practice can balance out timed teaching often used in elementary school. "When we teach kids, like, with a stopwatch, where you have to read things and the teacher has a stopwatch, you're kind of saying, 'Fast is the only way.' And, I think what you want to do is to say, there are a lot of speeds, but slowing down is really important."

There are tips for re-training your brain. Dr Mikics suggests that you be patient. It will take time for your brain to slow down. You need to re-read passages and pages when necessary and use a dictionary to look up words you don't know. He also suggests that you think about why specific language is used.

Kreigh's students recommend the practice, but he reminds that one size does not fit all. "Slow reading doesn't have to become a set way of life where that's the only way you ever read things again," Kreigh said. "But, it is definitely a method where you'll enrich your own life and become a better person for it."

Slow reading advocates say you don't need a group to chill out with a good book. You can certainly do it on your own. Some groups are not only slow, but also silent; where you just read in peace. Others offer discussion, something the students we talked to believe is an added benefit.