Based on its level of difficulty, reading could be classified into three levels. First, literal reading which entails the ability to recognize words accurately; to identify topic, main ideas, and supporting details; to understand sequence of events; to recognize cause and effect relationships; to interpret directions; and to understand organizational patterns used in various types of reading matter. Second, critical reading, or a way of looking at a text and analyzing what the author is saying and the methods he is using to communicate a message or idea. In critical reading, the reader’s analysis is complete when he has formed his own interpretations of the author’s intentions. Thus, critical reading necessitates the ability to read with analysis and judgment. The third type is affective reading, which fuses the reader’s intellectual and emotional responses to what he read. The relationship of these three levels can be illustrated through the following triangle. Literal reading is put on the bottom of the triangle because it is the basis for the other two. It also takes the widest area because this level covers the greatest number of all reading skills. Critical reading is put in the second level because one can read critically only if he has mastered all the skills covered by literal reading. Thus, critical reading ability is higher than literal reading ability. Affective reading is put on top of the triangle because it is the highest reading level. One can read affectively only if he has mastered all the skills covered by both literal and critical reading.
The need for critical reading grows daily because much reading matter, particularly newspapers, magazines, and advertisements, attempt to influence the reader’s thinking and behavior. In general, there’s nothing wrong with this; it is only wrong if you allow yourself to be unknowingly influenced just because you passively absorb other people’s opinions without trying to find out whether they are truly sound or not. By applying critical reading techniques, for instance, a citizen will be able to weigh public issues and make intelligent choices among political candidates. Critical reading will also enable someone to detect misleading advertisement claims, recognize the best values, and avoid spending their money foolishly. And since it is a skill, it can be developed and refined with practice. The exercises in this book are aimed to provide you with critical reading skills.
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