Topic | Child reading too fast?


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  • Kristina

    I have a seven year old son who was a very early reader. He loves to read and would probably read for hours a day if I would let him. I have noticed, however, that he is now beginning to read so quickly that I’m wondering if he is missing the opportunity to develop the habit of careful reading. He comprehends what he reads, but we have an hour quiet time each day and he will read a full chapter book (or two depending on the length). When I ask him he will sometimes give me detailed narrations of his free reads but other times he will say he doesn’t remember. I’ve also noticed his hurried reading when he reads aloud to me. He just seems so eager and excited to find out what happens next.

    So my question is- is this something I need to be concerned about now during his reading or will this take care of itself as he begins taking over his own readings? And should I possibly assign him a book or two for lessons so he gets used to narrating his personal readings or should I wait until he’s older for that?

    Thanks for any advice you can share!

    Rachel White

    “is this something I need to be concerned about now during his reading or will this take care of itself as he begins taking over his own readings?”

    This doesn’t correct itself, you’ll need to assist; as you know, he’s not reading, he’s skimming and/or the material is too easy. Habits-wise, this sets him up as missing a great deal from future books and lessens his ability to concentrate and focus; basically, he’s reading like it’s a tv show, he’s abridging it. I would add that his skimming will very likely affect his ability to pronounce and spell multisyllabic words in the future, too

    My suggestions are:

    • you read How to Read a Book Slowly, so you can transfer your learning to him
    • he needs to read aloud daily to you and/or the family; and tell him he must slow it down for the listener; when he speeds up, stop him and make him start the sentence over; this forces focus; he’ll get frustrated, but that’s ok. The habit of attention is frustrating to develop after it’s been compromised. Make sure you are reading aloud daily, too, as an example
    • Make sure the books aren’t twaddle; that they are older books which require more effort
    • yes, I think he should be narrating now. And until he is slowing down on his own, have him read aloud what he plans to narrate. Start with a sentence or paragraph at a time and have him orally narrate one reading daily
    • Incorporate audiobooks for his rest time for a while until you see him slowing down consistently. He can read at bedtime.
    • If you allow videogames, I personally would nix that for while (or go down to once a week); this is about lengthening his attention span and videogames, and excessive tv, shortens it.

    Don’t try to tell him why he needs to slow down, he’s seven; it will just give him something to argue with you about and make your job harder; he just needs to follow your instructions

    Examples you can give him:

    1) you read more slowly when reading aloud so others can follow along(that takes it off of him, he doesn’t realize this is helping him, too)

    2) audiobooks during rest time- that’s just your decision; you want him to HEAR stories read by professional readers; it strengthens his auditory skills (again he doesn’t realize the benefits to his own reading and attention span in this practice)

    3) videogames: self-explanatory

    4) narrating: he’s growing up! Time for something new in his education; it may be hard because it’s a new skill, but keep trying

    5) if you have twaddle lying around, which he’s reading, I suggest a purge (if this bothers him, again, he’s a big boy and other people need books too and he’s ready to graduate to books that aren’t twaddle); let him choose ONE to keep

    Yes, my children know the word twaddle! I’ve used it all their lives and they can tell for themselves now



    Agreed, teaching him to slow down is important. You’ve had great advice already. I would say also that you schedule a book for him to read for school, that he’s narrating from daily, and require he only reads 1 chapter each day. Then if his narration is weak that day (he sped through reading and skimmed) then require him to go re-read the chapter. Another trick to help him monitor his own reading is to ask him to read aloud to himself the first paragraph of each new page. It will naturally slow him down.



    I have one of those speed readers too. My daughter is now 11, but since she was 5 she has been the only person I know that reads faster than me.

    I have done just as the previous posters suggested. The books that she reads during her own free time, such as at bedtime, she can read as fast as she wants. She also re-reads them frequently, getting faster each time.

    However, she also has some books that she is expected to narrate from, and to narrate after every chapter. She CAN narrate from the books she reads fast, but by making her stop after every chapter, it slows her down, and she narrates in more detail.  Plus, we have a chance to discuss the story a bit. I find that after she has narrated and we have had a bit of a ‘grand conversation’, for a few chapters, she naturally reads the rest of the book slower. It’s as if she needs that cue to be thinking about the book, rather than just rushing past it.

    I know others won’t feel this way, but I’ve given up on working too hard to limit the twaddle. My daughter takes dozens of books at a time out of the library and I just can’t keep up. I browse, and we discuss the books regularly, to make sure she isn’t reading anything morally offensive, but other than that, I don’t try to control what she reads on her own. Making sure she slows down for ‘school’ reading, though, makes a difference in her ability to really read and digest a book, rather than just gulp it, and she also is becoming more discerning in her book choices.


    I have a 13 year old who daily will read an average of two books in his free time (i.e. Horatio Alger, Henty, etc..). He speed reads, but isn’t skimming, and can narrate details in astonishing detail. When he reads non-fiction, he remember lengthy facts in chronological order as it appeared in the writing. Again, the retention is shocking. He could go on and on. Should I still make him slow down reading?


    Britainie – It sounds like your son has something of a photographic memory. It is an amazing gift! It also may not transfer to all types of studying, so in your case I would suggest having certain practice times where he is reading slower. There are two things I can think of that would help this (as he is a teen, not a young child, I wouldn’t do these with a young child):

    1. Assign him the task of making notes for YOU. What does he find important as he reads? Make the notes during the reading process. This will slow him down a bit because he has to evaluate what he is reading, decide what is important information, and stop to write. This is more for a non-fiction read I think. Vocabulary, important information, tables, examples, etc.

    2. Give him narration prompts to do after reaching the end of each chapter. For example:

    • What did the main character do in this situation/chapter? What would you have done?
    • What do you think will happen next based on what you have read so far? How would you write the story next?
    • What do you want to know more about?
    • Does this person/event/chapter remind you of anything you have read before? Tell me about it.
    • Compare this character to _____ character from another book you read. How are they alike and different? How would they act if they switched places in each others books?

    I’ll be interested to hear other people’s thoughts!

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