Reading academically means to read for a purpose. The reader’s purpose determines the amount of time a reader needs to take with a text. The time spent with a text is a relationship between the text and the reader. The more time spent with a text, the deeper the relationship will become. I call these relationships with the text, readlationships and have identified four levels of readlationships to guide the student on how to interact with the text. Each level can be associated to human relationships to aid students in understanding the rules for relationship and each has a different way to actively read. These are the four readlationships: assistant, colleague, friend, and love.
The first level readlationship is an assistant relationship. When a person needs to purchase gas or get groceries; they go in, pay, and leave. Rarely is there anything more than a transactional conversation, there just isn’t enough time. The relationship is just that of assistance, like when a student just needs to go in, get their information, and get out. Students don’t need to spend as much time with all texts to get their information. Active reading takes time, but academic reading recognizes that sometimes, readers need to have skills to digest information quickly. Students learn how to use key words to process texts and find the information they need for class without using additional time. With effective scanning techniques, students can process less important texts more quickly.
The second form of readlationship is a colleague. Here, the reader is spending more time with a text, getting to know it by working with it. This is where the student will need to use the skills taught in the class and practice active reading skills. Just like coworkers, the students may or may not enjoy the text, but they will need to become familiar enough to work with the text.
After working with a text, a student may want to befriend it and know more about it. With a friend readlationship, the reader will spend more time with the text and read other materials to learn more. This is where to introduce how to look for outside resources and to follow the text for more information. It would also be a good time to visit the library or talk about research for classes.
The last readlationship is more rare, love. When a person falls in love with a text, they will actively seek to learn more. Beyond merely seeking outside resources, the reader will want to know anything they can about the text. This readlationship takes time and internal desire to know more. Like love with a person, this readlationship transcends the mind and touches the heart, it is beyond academic reading and cannot be taught. When a person loves a text enough to study it in this way, they become an expert on the text.
By understanding the various depths of readlationships in reading, the skilled reader will know how to approach a text for class. Learning how to approach the text is almost as important as knowing how to process it as far as efficiency. The skilled reader knows the level of engagement necessary for each text, knows how to comprehend the text, knows the relationships of the text, and the final skill, how to evaluate the text.