Four types of reading

Skimming, Scanning, Speed reading, and Narrative Reading

There are four types of reading we do almost everyday for one reason or another. Each one takes you deeper into the meaning of a book, magazine or article. These reading types are useful as individual skills also. Read on!


We do this to quickly look over a piece of writing and take in the illustrations to see if we can get a very quick idea of what the text is about…Like if you were skimming a stone over water. This takes about 10 seconds.

E.g. – This is useful for non-fiction texts to see if what we are looking at will be useful to use for a research task. Check out this link to an article by National Geographic about the African Elephant called ‘Big Talkers’. On Skimming this, can you decide whether this article would help you with research on simple machines?



We do this when we are looking for something in particular. We FOCUS ON A KEY WORD, and when we find it, we read ‘around’ the word. Read the rest of the sentence (also the sentence before and after) to see if this is useful to you or not. It’s like looking just below the surface… what do you see? Does it attract your attention?

E.g. – look for the word ‘conservationists‘ in the ‘Big Talkers’ article. It should take about 10-20 seconds to scan the whole article, and see if your eyes catch the word ‘conservationists‘. If you do find it, read around the word to get a better idea of the context.



We do this when you want to get a quick general idea of what a whole text is about. It is a very QUICK type of reading, we may not read all the little words, and we do not understand everything of what we are reading. For example – You might use this if you are reading a chapter book, and you have to find a particular sentence in what you have just read. This does not take very long.

E.g. – Practice speed reading something out loud to a partner to hear what it is like. You can use the ‘Big Talkers’ article again to read the first section out loud to practice this.



This is reading at a normal speed, reading every word, which lets us have the opportunity to really understand what is being read. This is the kind of reading you do all the time. It is the one that is necessary for you to have full comprehension of what you are reading.

E.g. – if you really want to understand the article ‘Big Talkers’, read it at a normal speed.






  1. Choose another book or magazine at random, and practice using these four types of reading. It is useful to practice them in order, so that you really get the feel of sinking deeper into the text.
  2. Make a new blog post that reflects on your understanding of each of these types of reading. The title should be ‘ THE FOUR TYPES OF READING’ Put it in the English category. Don’t forget to tag it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s