[Editor’s note: This is the second in an occasional series of guest blogs from a variety of AceReader users.]
My reading efforts over the years have been an up and down journey. By the time I was four, I was already reading storybooks, and as a young kid I was a frequent, engaged reader. The books I chose were never long, but they filled certain needs. My love of solving puzzles led me to the “Encyclopedia Brown” series of solve-it-yourself mysteries, and I also enjoyed the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.
When I got to junior and senior high school, though, my interest in reading waned, and generally the only books I read were the ones for which I had to do a book report in school. There were a couple of exceptions to this: I loved the macabre tales of Steven King, and I was drawn into the dark world of Edgar Allen Poe. I also enjoyed John Irving’s “The World According to Garp,” and, later, his story “A Prayer for Owen Meany.”
As a general rule, though, I found I had a hard time keeping my focus while reading, so instead of it being a pleasurable or exciting experience, it became a tedious one, something I had to push myself through. After I graduated college and went to work in the IT field, most of what I read were technical manuals, things I needed to know to do my job well. After a while, though, I had a resurgence in my interest in reading. I liked a lot of science fiction movies I saw that had good stories to them, so I thought I’d go back and read some of the classic books from the Golden Age of science fiction. These were works by the likes of Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke; and the more I read, the more interested I became. I also broadened my scope to include some classic literature and dramas, and I’m now working my way through all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels.
The problem of losing focus, though, didn’t go away, and I looked for a way to remedy that. I’m friends with Miriam Ruff, the content developer at AceReader; based on her own experiences using the program, she recommended I try it to boost my reading rate and comprehension, and, from that, learn to focus on the material while I was reading it. I got a copy of the program a little over a year ago, and in that time, AceReader has addressed all three areas and helped me improve in each of them.
Primarily, I’ve worked with the program using the Course Mode, the pre-set group of activities that addresses reading comprehension, eye pacing drills, and targeted games. I usually work with it about four times a week, 15 minutes per session. I try to do only one set of activities in any given day, so I can better process the skills and material. To date, I’ve finished several of the 13 content levels, and when I take the post-course assessments, my effective reading rate score is always higher than when I started that level, so I know I’m improving. Generally, when I switch levels after finishing one, I try to jack up the complexity rather than just going to the next higher one. Since I’ve been able to maintain both my reading rate and my comprehension scores on the more complex text while doing this, I know the exercises are still helping. I also have more confidence in approaching new material.
I guess my takeaway from all this is that AceReader is a useful tool on many levels. I have increased my reading speed. I am better able to maintain my focus while reading different types of materials. And because I am less frustrated by the reading process, I find myself more confident about my abilities and better able to enjoy what I read. I’ve even started to read more non-fiction, like the news, and I’ve taken to re-reading some of my college textbooks, seeing if I can learn anything that I wasn’t able to pick up on before. I would definitely recommend this program to any other frustrated readers, as well as those people who simply want to learn to read well. The more you practice, the easier it becomes, and, yes, reading can become a pleasurable experience in your life.