Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on September 8, 2016

It was a challenge for me to read a book about how to read a book. The author shared his points on the levels of reading, types of books, and the ways to approach reading.  He stated that there were four levels of reading: elementary, inspectional, analytical, and syntopical. He dissected each level to provide an approach to reading at these various levels.

The elementary level of reading intrigued me because I have a reading tutorial program for students in Grades one through twelve.  His points of interest were the four stages: reading readiness, word mastery, vocabulary growth and the utilization of context, and the mature reader. (23-25) I spent time reading and massaging this chapter. Our organization work with children struggling in reading and his helped me in understanding the type of reader the student identifies with. A significant challenge in teaching reading is developing a program that will hold the student’s interest and encourage the mastering of the skills of reading.

The first stage of reading encompasses several different kinds of preparation for learning to read: good vison, hearing, visual perception, language, and ability to work with other children. (24) The second stage of learning to read: sight words, sounds of words, and able to identify the meaning. (25) The third stage of learning to read:  vocabulary building and reading text with different content. (25) The fourth stage of learning to read: able to assimilate their reading experiences. (25) The author specially points to the fact that at the college level we should all be at stage four.

The inspectional level of reading discusses systemic skimming and superficial reading through the book the first time. (42, 43) The author shares that speed reading is one that does not equal comprehension.  The analytical level of reading addresses pigeon holding and x-raying a book, interpretive reading, and the aids to assist in reading a book. The author spent so much detail on the type of books and how the analytical read approached each type.

The syntopical level of reading discusses five steps: find relevant passages, identify key words and sentences, understanding the author’s proposition, and defining the issue. (308-313) The author dissects these steps to summarize it as two main stages: preparatory and syntopical reading proper. (226) He directs you to reviewing the bibliography which may assist you in understanding  the author’s direction of thought.  At this level you may identify multiple views of a passage.

Overall, the author shares an analogy on how one matures in reading. Taking the reader from how they learned to read as a child to the progressive stage of where they are now and how to adapt to a method of reading style that effectively works for the reader. This book would be good for teachers to help them understand and develop a lesson plan for their assigned students learning development. I must admit I skipped through this book and had to reread some parts. Some I just skimmed through to move forward in the book.


Lynda Wright Gittens

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

8 responses to “LGP7 HOW TO READ A BOOK”

  1. Katy Lines says:

    I think, Lynda, that skimming to catch the important elements was part of the goal of this book. I’m guessing that, with the amount of reading assigned to us in this program, Adler’s methods of skimming/pre-reading to grasp “what’s important to ME?” will be extremely helpful. Looking at a mountain, realizing we only have time to explore small corners of it, and figuring out which of those corners will most benefit us.

  2. Jim Sabella says:

    Great post Lynda. I like the way you applied the book to your present situation. Although I didn’t see where the authors expressed age specifics for each level, from your experience at what age or grade would you think that a person should be able to read “actively” as prescribed in the book? I’m not sure I can do it at my age! Maybe it’s a target for which one is always reaching. Thoughts?

  3. Mary Walker says:

    Lynda, I thought the way you related the chapter on elementary reading to your ministry was great! Isn’t that the heart of our reading, especially the Bible?
    I enjoyed your post very much.

  4. Chip Stapleton says:

    I too loved the connection to your context, thanks!

  5. Lynda Gittens says:

    Page 26 is where the author identifies grade levels in the different stages of elementary level reading. First stage – preschool to kindergarten Second stage – first to third grade; Third stage – at the end of fourth grade; and the Fourth stage – middle school.
    In regard to actively reading, as it relates to children and adults, when the book peaks your interest, you are concentrating and learning about the authors points of view. When its a book that lacks your interest, its then we have to focus and become a determined reader in order to concentrate and retain.

  6. Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

    Linda I enjoyed how you connected the stages of reading to the work you do in your organization. It makes reading a book like this more applicable when we can find practical life application and connection. 🙂

  7. Great thought on how this book helps a child grow up and develop their reading skills. I agree on the irony of reading a book on how to read a book. I’d never heard it broken down so thoroughly before. Makes me not take reading for granted as much. Nice summary.

  8. Thank you, Lynda, for applying the elementary reading level to your work. I didn’t really dig into that section because I have typically worked with older readers but, after reading your thoughts, I went back and thought about how useful that information would have been when I was teaching international students who had limited English vocabularies and were struggling with high school level English.

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