Reading Skills | Form Five and Form Six

Woman reading book.

Reading is the process of going through written information in order to understand. This topic presents some basics about effective reading.

Types of reading

There are many types of reading as discussed below:

This is a kind of reading where the reader is interested in just knowing what the text is being read is about. The reader want to get a general idea about the passage or text. In skimming, reader read, few lines, paragraphs, heading and subheading as well as the table of content.

We use skimming when we get new books, newspapers, journals, magazines, essays etc.

Advantage of skimming
It help to assess whether the material is worth reading or otherwise. Some books are good and others are not.

It is very important in saving time of readers.

Scanning is a reading technique to be used when you want to find specific information quickly. In scanning you know exactly what you are looking for. That means, the book you have may contain a lot of things but you are only interested in just one thing or a few of them. So you use the table of contents or index to locate where in that book a particular piece of information is found. Once you get the information, you read it. Then you leave the book.

Study reading
This is the kind of reading in which the reader wants to fully understand and remember what is read. It is the method that is used in reading textbooks, in this type of reading, the reader concentrate in everything.

Study reading is sometimes referred to as intensive reading, whereby the main purpose for reading in academic work is to understand fully the reading materials relevant to your studies.

Critical reading
Critical reading it is a type of reading whereby a reader try to identify the information presented and relate it to his/her experience. In this type of reading, a reader read between the lines.

Critical reading is mainly used when we are reading literary works. It is important to note that critical reading is not restricted to literature. Other texts can be read critically too. What matters in critical reading is to go beyond what words say at the surface.

Extensive reading
Extensive reading it refer to the habit of reading. This is when a reader read many books for increasing knowledge or as a hobby.

Extensive reading enrich people with knowledge. You get a lot of information because different books talk about many different things.

Strategies for critical and intensive reading

For successful reading, there are a number of activities that need to be carried out. The following are strategies for critical and intensive reading:

     1.   Prepare yourself mentally
Tell your mind that what you are about to read is simple and understandable. You will enjoy reading if you read with interest and without fear.

     2.   Organize your materials
Arrange your books and other materials well before you start reading. If you don't organize your studying materials, you will waste a lot of time. For example, you can spend more time looking for pens and other materials instead of studying.

     3.   Set objectives
Indicate what you want to achieve at the end of reading. Ask yourself some questions that you should be able to answer at the end of reading. Ask questions like, “At the end of this reading, I want to be able to define the words such as…”

     4.   Outline the main points as you read
This will make you understand what you read, because when you write something down, you give yourself time to reflect.

     5.   Be active as you read
You are advised to concentrate when you read. When you read, pretend like explaining what you read to someone else. This will help you to concentrate, remember and understand.

     6.   Take some breaks
Reading is to be taken as a leisure. Schedule time for break. During break, stretch yourself.

Reading and Locating References in the Library

In Libraries there are a numbers of books, journals and other references such as encyclopedias.

Catalogue in the library
A catalogue is a register of materials in the library. The material may include books, films, encyclopedias, yearbooks and other resources found in the library.

Catalogue is important because in the library there are classification of materials basing on a number of factors. Without a guide like a catalogue, you may find yourself using a lot of time to locate these resources. Sometimes you may completely fail to find the material you are looking for.

Catalogues are either in form of cards or online information.

Library classification systems
There are two main classification systems in the library:

     1.   Library of congress
The library of congress classification system uses letters of the alphabet in classifying books on the shelves.
A       General books
B       Philosophy, psychology and religion
C-D History and Topography and Technology

     2.   The Dewey Decimal
The Dewey decimal classification system uses numbers in classifying library resources.
000-009     General books
100-199     Philosophy related disciplines
200-299     Religion

Using library resources
In library there are resources which are purely for reference. Those materials include:

     1.   Dictionaries
Dictionaries are of two types:
Abridged dictionary which is the abbreviated kind of dictionary because it is so shortened that it lack some linguistic information. Most of the desk dictionary, are of this kind.

Unbridged dictionary is a complete or full version of a dictionary. They are very big in size.

When using a dictionary, it is advisable you concentrate on the meaning that seems to be closely related and relevant to what you are reading.

     2.   Encyclopedias
Encyclopedias is a book or set of books containing many articles arranged in alphabetical order that deal either with the whole of human knowledge or with a particular part of it.

It differs from a dictionary in that it is not meant to provide meaning alone, it rather treats topics in a detailed manner. Encyclopedia is found in volumes.

     3.   Year books
These are references that are concerned by the major occurrences and development of the preceding year. They are published as soon as the year closes.


Referencing or citation is the use of other people’s ideas with acknowledgment. Using other people ideas without acknowledgment is called plagiarism.

Importance of citation
     1.   It prove that we have researched.

     2.   It add credibility to what we say.

     3.   To direct readers where they can get more information about what we present to them.

     4.   To show how other people view the point we are talking about.

APA Citation Style
APA is the short form for American Psychological Associations. This style is very simple and easy to use.

Ways of making reference
     1.   In-text citation
This is the reference we make inside our essays. You may either begin your citation with the author being mentioned first or you refer to the material and then the author follows latter.

According to Kitwana (2008), communication is the process of sharing information. This definition looks at communication as a social action.

“Communication is the process by which people share information with each other” (Kitwana, 2008:34). If a careful examination is done, it will be found that this definition looks at communication as a social activity.

In example two, 2008 represent the year I which the book which is being referred was written. 34 shows the page on which the definition of the term communication is found.

Whether you make citation by direct quotation of paraphrase, it is important to add your own interpretation of the materials you’re quoting.

To paraphrase is to use your own words in talking about what the author of the material you are referring to says.

Direct quotation is quoting exactly the same words.

End of essay citation
This is the type of reference which come after you have written your work. You tell the reader of your work the works that you have read.

Reference involving a book written by one author
If you want to write a reference of the book whose author is one, you follow the guideline as follows:

     1.   Write the surname (or last name) of the author
If on the cover of the book there is Abel Mwanjoka, then Mwanjoka is the surname (last name). For that reason, you will start your reference as Mwanjoka. This is followed by a comma to give: Mwanjoka,

     2.   Write the initials of other names (starting with that of the first name)
In the example above, our author’s first name is Abel, so, the initial will be A. at this point you will have: Mwanjoka, A. remember that the initial is followed by a full stop.

     3.   Write the year of publication in brackets
Books have the year in which they are published. Let us assume that Mwanjoka’s book was written in 2009. Then, the year of publication will be 2009. Up to this point our reference has to look like: Mwanjoka, A. (2009). It is important to note that brackets are followed by a full stop.

     4.   Write the title of the book
Let us assume that the title of the book written by Mwanjoka is: English Language for Secondary schools. So, this is what follows the brackets. At this point we have: Mwanjoka, A. (2009). English Language for Secondary School. The title of the book is italicized if written using computer or underline if hand written.

     5.   Write the name of the city/town where the book was published
Books have addresses inside them. These addresses show among other things the name of the town where the book was published. Let us say Mwanjoka’s book was published in Dar es Salaam. Then we shall have Dar es Salaam: as our city of publication. Note that the city/place of publication is followed by colon’:’ up to this point, our reference looks like: Mwanjoka, A. (2009). English Language for Secondary Schools. Dar es Salaam:

     6.   Lastly, write the name of the publishing company
There are many publishing companies in the world. Then our reference will look like:
Mwanjoka, A. (2009). English Language for Secondary Schools. Dar es Salaam. Ujuzi Publishers. Up to this point your reference will be complete.

Reference involving a book written by two authors
Do the following to refer a book written by two authors
-      Write the surname of the first author and the initial of that same author.

-      Then use the symbols & followed by the surname and initials of the second author.

-      Other details are written the same as we did when talking about the book written by one author.

Your reference will look like:
Lyimo, J. & Rutashobya, G. (2007). Geography and Society. Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota.

Reference involving a book written by more than two authors
Its reference will look like this:

Mwakapeje, A. Muro, D. & Mwanjanja M. (2006). Kiswahili Proverbs. Morogoro: Mzumbe Books Project.

If there are more than six writers, reference will look like this:
Mwakapeje, A et all. (2006). Kiswahili Proverbs. Morogoro: Mzumbe Books Project.

Reference involving the book that has been edited look like this:
Martin, E. W. (1978). The Theory of Care. In A. Ruskin et al. (Eds.), Hazards of primary care in aging populations (2nd Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott.  

Author, A. A. (1996). Money Deal. In E. E. Editor (Ed.), Second Prince. Dar es Salaam: Mwalimu Publishers.

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