Reading, especially active reading, are terms that most people associate with academia and stuffy, old libraries. But that is not the case. With advances in technology, reading is becoming more rooted in everyday activities such as going to work, reading in bed with a warm cup of tea (our favourite) or, with the help of audiobooks, anywhere you’d like. We’ve put together some common misconceptions about active readers that we’ve come across in our interactions with students.

One of the most common misconceptions of active reading is that everything important must be highlighted or underlined. This might be the case if you would like to write about the text later on, or if you need to remind yourself of important passages, as in academia. Though even in an academic setting, not everything should be marked, only the important sections you would like to remember should. In reading for pleasure, there is no need to underline and highlight; it is generally a waste of time, and can impact the speed at which you read. Active reading is about interacting with the text, generally by connecting it to your experiences and asking questions of it and searching for their answers.

Another misconception is that active readers remember everything they have read, and do not need to go back and reread previous sections or even other texts. This is the exact opposite of the truth. Most active readers go back and reread sections, or even whole chapters to remind themselves or to understand any unclear ideas. This is a large part of interacting with a text.

It is only for people who plan to do a lot of reading in their life. This statement is untrue since active reading is not only for use in school, or for reading for pleasure. It is a skill that can be used in any part of one’s life. For example, reading actively can help you with understanding and questioning television shows, commercials/ads etc. Just because it is called active “reading” does not mean that you have to be reading for the skill to apply.

Another common misconception is that this is a skill that must be learned as a child. You can start learning to be an active reader at any age. It is not something that cannot be learned as a teenager or as an adult. Generally, our rule of thumb is, if you can read, you can learn to be an active reader.

Active reading is one of those skills that can be tough to start, due in no small part to the above misconceptions, but is very rewarding once mastered. It is a skill that can help with a lot of aspects of everyday life, from enriching a boring commute to work to better understanding a literary text or TV show (we’re not judging).