How to be well read

I was trying to describe my friend to someone else a few days ago, and I called him “the most well-read person I know.” Even though I said it, I’m not entirely sure what I meant–the term “well-read” has always had a hazy, nebulous character to me. It lies somewhere near “reads a lot of classics” and left of “knows about obscure authors I’ve never heard of, especially ones from other countries” and generally around “understands Everything in All The Books and therefore has something interesting to add to almost every conversation” and perhaps even “reads For Fun what most of us read For Guilt And Bragging Rights.” It’s the sort of thing I couldn’t define, but could indentify when I saw it.

So what does it actually mean to be well-read? With over 129 million published books in the world (according to Google), what is the formula that allows you to select a few thousand in order to attain well-readness before you die? What about genre? What about number of books read? We all know someone who reads three or more books a week, but are they books that add to that someone’s well-read factor? And then there are the problematic “Read These 17,583 Before You Die And You Will Be The Well Readinest Person In Your Suburb” lists.

WordNet, Princeton’s English lexical database, defines well read as “well informed or deeply versed through reading.” I agree with this on the surface, but it leaves the gate open for only reading about one thing in your life, ever. You can be well read in medieval poetry written by monks who rode donkeys only on Tuesdays. You can be well read about vampires and the various incarnations of their girlfriends, be they surly or Southern. In my case, I am “well informed and deeply versed” in Victorian-era Western literature because I have read mostly classics in my life. But I don’t think this definition covers a general concept of well readhood.

I crowd-sourced this question on Twitter and I really like the answer I got from Emily of Reading While Female (@ReadWhileFemale): “Well read means reading widely from a broad range of genres and subjects…Reading widely includes, but is not limited to, literary fiction and classics. Reading 200 paranormal romances =/= well read.” If you replace “paranormal romance” with any other genre and then never venture outside of that genre, I would also say that that doesn’t equal being well read. I would add (and I’m sure Emily would agree) that the definition should also include understanding what you read and being thoughtful about it.

While it might sound snobby to some, I agree with Emily’s point about literary fiction and classics. I don’t think you can be well read and skip those areas of literature. I also think that you have to include non-fiction.

So, let’s nail this down. Being well read means reading thoughtfully from a wide variety of genres (not limited to, but definitely including, the classics) and a multicultural array of authors in such a way that allows you to think and converse about the human experience intelligently.

This isn’t a problem-free or final definition. What is a “wide variety,” numerically or categorically speaking? Who defines what is and is not a classic? How many cultures do you have to read from to have read multiculturally? However, I think the openness of a definition like this gives each reader with a desire to be “well read” enough flexibility to pursue his or her own reading journey in a way that is both purposeful and free-form.

Read Well ® is a comprehensive research-based K–3 reading and language arts solution that helps students build the critical skills needed to be successful readers and learners. Through a flexible approach of whole-class instruction, differentiated small-group instruction, and individual student practice, teachers can meet students at their skill levels and adapt instruction accordingly.

Read Well Gives Students a Clear Path to Reading Comprehension, Mastery, and Academic Success

Unique instructional design with parallel scope and sequence

Unique sound sequence based on the most frequently used words

Flexible pacing and grouping options based on individual student needs

Multiple entry points for appropriate student placement with embedded assessments and progress monitoring

Focuses on explicit, systematic instruction in the “big five” of reading

ESSA evidence level: Strong

Who Benefits from Read Well?

Read Well is a comprehensive reading program for students in grades K–3 that addresses the needs of all students—from low-performing to high-achieving. The program adjusts to the need of each student, allowing students to advance at their own pace. Teachers have continuous progress monitoring that enables them to differentiate instruction based on individual student need.

How to be well read

Evidence Based

Read Well is a research-based comprehensive K–3 reading and language arts solution that helps teachers effectively target students at all stages of development. This evidence-based approach builds critical skills students need to be successful readers and learners.

Proven Results

Efficacy studies demonstrate effectiveness across all student demographics.

Read Well K

  • Whole-class activities address different learning styles
  • Focus on phonics and phonemic awareness with games, songs, stories, art projects, and handwriting activities
  • Small-group instruction focuses on decoding, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency
  • Composition unit provides explicit instruction in the writing process, writing traits, handwriting, and read-aloud comprehension and vocabulary

Read Well 1

  • Features individualized small-group instruction where students:
    • Practice story reading
    • Learn vocabulary
    • Develop decoding strategies
    • Improve comprehension
    • Master test-taking strategies
    • Increase fluency

    Read Well 2

    • Continues to build the foundational skills necessary to reading more sophisticated narrative and expository text selections
    • Focus on low-frequency letter/sound associations, word parts, and multisyllabic word fluency
    • Expansion of vocabulary, content knowledge, and comprehension skills
    • Spelling and Writing Conventions unit incorporates complementary whole-class instruction
    • Composition unit provides explicit instruction in the writing process, writing traits, handwriting, and read-aloud comprehension and vocabulary

    Read Well 3

    • Expands on Read Well K–2 model, teaching critical comprehension and encoding skills for deeper understanding of content-area text
    • Provides modeling, collaboration, and independent practice to develop analytical and abstract thinking skills
    • Embedded assessment and progress monitoring helps teachers provide targeted, effective instruction on an ongoing basis

    The Read Well Difference

    How K–3 students at a high-achieving Title I school are succeeding with Read Well

    Hear how Springfield Elementary School has increased the number of students reading at or above grade level more rapidly than any other school in the district.

    Support young learners in your school or district

    How Read Well Aligns with Your State

    Learn more about Read Well. Find state-specific and national correlation guides.

    Training and Support Services

    We are committed to a long-term partnership with every district that implements our solutions. Each implementation support plan is individually crafted with school and/or district administrators to meet specific needs, including making explicit connections to state standards and/or the CCSS. Districts can choose from a menu of training and support options including in-person, online, or a combination of both.

    How to be well read

    Despite tele­vi­sion, cell phones, and Twit­ter, tra­di­tion­al read­ing is still an impor­tant skill. Whether it is school text­books, mag­a­zines, or reg­u­lar books, peo­ple still read, though not as much as they used to. One rea­son that many peo­ple don’t read much is that they don’t read well. For them, it is slow, hard work and they don’t remem­ber as much as they should. Stu­dents, for example,may have to read some­thing sev­er­al times before they under­stand and remem­ber what they read.

    Why? You would think that schools teach kids how to read well. Schools do try. I work with mid­dle-school teach­ers and they tell me that many stu­dents are 2–3 years behind grade lev­el in read­ing pro­fi­cien­cy. No doubt, tele­vi­sion, cell phones, and the Web are major con­trib­u­tors to this prob­lem, which will appar­ent­ly get worse if we don’t empha­size and improve read­ing instruction.

    Some of the blame can be placed on the fads in read­ing teach­ing, such as phon­ics and “whole lan­guage,” which some­times are pro­mot­ed by zealots who don’t respect the need for both approach­es. Much of the blame for poor read­ing skills can be laid at the feet of par­ents who set poor exam­ples and, of course, on the young­sters who are too lazy to learn how to read well.

    For all those who missed out on good read­ing skills, it is not too late. I sum­ma­rize below what I think it takes to read with good speed and comprehension.

    1. Read with a purpose.
    2. Skim first.
    3. Get the read­ing mechan­ics right.
    4. Be judi­cious in high­light­ing and note taking.
    5. Think in pictures.
    6. Rehearse as you go along.
    7. Stay with­in your atten­tion span and work to increase that span.
    8. Rehearse again soon.

    1) Know Your Purpose

    Every­one should have a pur­pose for their read­ing and think about how that pur­pose is being ful­filled dur­ing the actu­al read­ing. The advan­tage for remem­ber­ing is that check­ing con­tin­u­ous­ly for how the pur­pose is being ful­filled helps the read­er to stay on task, to focus on the more rel­e­vant parts of the text, and to rehearse con­tin­u­ous­ly as one reads. This also saves time and effort because rel­e­vant items are most attended.

    Iden­ti­fy­ing the pur­pose should be easy if you freely choose what to read. Just ask your­self, “Why am I read­ing this?” If it is to be enter­tained or pass the time, then there is not much prob­lem. But myr­i­ad oth­er rea­sons could apply, such as:

    • to under­stand a cer­tain group of peo­ple, such as Mus­lims, Jews, Hin­dus, etc.
    • to crys­tal­lize your polit­i­cal posi­tion, such as why a giv­en gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy should be opposed.
    • to devel­op an informed plan or proposal.
    • to sat­is­fy a require­ment of an aca­d­e­m­ic course or oth­er assigned reading.

    Many of us have read­ings assigned to us, as in a school envi­ron­ment. Or the boss may hand us a man­u­al and say “Here. We need you to read this.” Whether the order comes from a teacher or boss, we need to ask, “What do you want me to learn from this?” In the absence of such guid­ance, you should still for­mu­late your best guess about what you should learn and remem­ber from the reading.

    2) Skim First

    Some read­ing tasks require no more than skim­ming. Prop­er skim­ming includes putting an empha­sis on the head­ings, pic­tures, graphs, tables, and key para­graphs (which are usu­al­ly at the begin­ning and the end). Depend­ing on the pur­pose, you should slow down and read care­ful­ly only the parts that con­tribute to ful­fill­ing the read­ing purpose.

    Even mate­r­i­al that has to be stud­ied care­ful­ly should be skimmed first. The ben­e­fits of skim­ming first are that the skim­ming: 1) primes the mem­o­ry, mak­ing it eas­i­er to remem­ber when you read it the sec­ond time, 2) ori­ents the think­ing, help­ing you to know where the impor­tant con­tent is in the doc­u­ment, 3) cre­ates an over­all sense and gestalt for the doc­u­ment, which in turn makes it eas­i­er to remem­ber cer­tain particulars.

    Brows­ing on the Inter­net encour­ages peo­ple to skim read. The way con­tent is han­dled on the Web is even caus­ing writ­ers to make wider use of Web devices, such as num­bered or bul­let­ed lists, side­bars, graph­ics, text box­es and side­bars. But the bad news is that the Web style makes it even hard­er to learn how to read in-depth; that is, the Web teach­es us to skim, cre­at­ing bad read­ing habits for in-depth reading.

    3) Get the Mechan­ics Right

    For in-depth read­ing, eyes need to move in a dis­ci­plined way. Skim­ming actu­al­ly trains eyes to move with­out dis­ci­pline. When you need to read care­ful­ly and remem­ber the essence of large blocks of text, the eyes must snap from one fix­a­tion point to the next in left- to right-sequence. More­over, the fix­a­tions should not be one indi­vid­ual let­ters or even sin­gle words, but rather on sev­er­al words per fix­a­tion. There are read­ing-improve­ment machines that train the eyes to fix­ate prop­er­ly, but few schools use them. I know from per­son­al expe­ri­ence with such machines that they can increase read­ing speed marked­ly with­out a cost in low­er com­pre­hen­sion. Poor read­ers who stum­ble along from word to word actu­al­ly tend to have low­er com­pre­hen­sion because their mind is pre­oc­cu­pied with rec­og­niz­ing the let­ters and their arrange­ment in each word.That is a main rea­son they can’t remem­ber what they read. Count­less times I have heard col­lege stu­dents say, “I read that chap­ter three times, and I still can’t answer your ques­tions.” When I ask thought-pro­vok­ing ques­tions about the mate­r­i­al, they often can’t answer the ques­tions because they can’t remem­ber the mean­ing of what they read. Even with straight­for­ward sim­ple mem­o­riza­tion ques­tions, they often can’t remem­ber, because their focus on the words them­selves kept them from asso­ci­at­ing what their eyes saw with their own pre-exist­ing knowl­edge and thus facil­i­tat­ing remem­ber­ing. In short, to remem­ber what you read, you have to think about what the words mean.

    I am not argu­ing against phon­ics, which in my view is vital for the ini­tial learn­ing of how to read. But phon­ics is just the first step in good read­ing prac­tice. At some point, the read­er needs to rec­og­nize whole words as com­plete units and then expand that capa­bil­i­ty to clus­ters of sev­er­al words.

    Among the key tac­tics for good mechan­ics of read­ing, I list the following:

    • Make eye con­tact with all the text not being delib­er­ate­ly skimmed
    • See mul­ti­ple words in each eye fixation
    • Strive to expand the width of each eye fix­a­tion (on an 8.5″ width, strive for three fix­a­tions or even­tu­al­ly two per line). This skill has to be devel­oped in stages. First, learn how do read at five or six fix­a­tions per line. Then work on four per line. Then three.
    • Snap eyes from one fix­a­tion point to anoth­er (hor­i­zon­tal snaps on long lines, ver­ti­cal snap if whole line in a col­umn can be seen with one fixation).

    Learn­ing how to do this takes prac­tice. If you can’t do it on your own, con­sid­er for­mal train­ing from a read­ing center.

    Being well-informed is not the same as being a know-all. The former is about being able to ask intelligent questions in seminars, engage in debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and realise that two of your tutors are having an affair. The latter is about passing on information on all of these subjects to everyone you know, even if you are not entirely sure the information is true.

    Also, being well-informed involves knowledge about lots of different things, while being a know-all can mean knowing all there is to know about an obscure period of Latvian history but not about how to tie your shoelaces.

    So, one of the things to remember if you want to be well-informed is to be broad in your interests. Don’t spend every waking minute in libraries and lectures. Find time to talk to fellow students about books and talks they have attended, flick through a periodical analysing recent world events, or watch the final eviction on Celebrity Big Brother.

    Attending a play or art exhibition, or even pondering the positives and negatives of Coolio may spark ideas useful to your topic of study, even if the connection isn’t immediately obvious. So keep an eye on arts and events listings, and don’t dismiss every invitation to socialise as a distraction.

    Meanwhile, remember that it can be tricky to be on top of your subject if you’re always thinking about entirely different things, or watching reality TV. So do spend some of your time in libraries and lectures. And while you’re there, ask for advice about the most useful publications and online resources available in your subject.

    Then, read. Start with all those bits of paper you were given at the beginning of term where you will find loads of useful information. Try reading emails from tutors, and comments on the bottom of assignments. You can make all sorts of interesting discoveries by simply casting your eyes over noticeboards and reading some of the posters stuck around the student union. It’s even worth reading things like your course handbook.

    Then there are newspapers, magazines, websites. It is also worth joining the odd online discussion group in areas that interest you. Oh, and don’t forget to Twitter, or to check what your friends are up to on Facebook, although no more than five times an hour.

    One danger with information-gathering is that it can become so addictive you never get around to doing anything with it. Remember that no one will realise how well-informed you are if you keep all the information to yourself.

    Seasoned conversationalists are usually great storytellers and can carry on a conversation about a wide range of topics. When you’re knowledgeable and well-read, small talk can become more than an opportunity to pass the time. Instead, it’s an easy way to have interesting conversations with clients and colleagues.

    If you’d like to take your networking ability to the next level, set out to acquire a well-rounded repertoire of conversational subjects. Read newspapers, books and magazines. Listen to podcasts and TED talks. Sign up for classes and attend cultural events. Travel to exotic locations.

    If you invest in personal development, you’ll stand out as an entrepreneur who is intelligent, experienced and interesting. Here are eight ways to learn a little about a lot in just a few minutes a day.

    1. Subscribe to a daily newspaper. You could subscribe to your local paper or opt for a daily with national distribution such as The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. If you would prefer not to have the actual paper delivered to your home or office, most offer a digital edition for a reduced subscription rate. Go online and read newspapers from other parts of the world. When you travel, pick up the local paper at the airport. It’s an opportunity to spur conversation with clients, colleagues and friends.

    2. Read for 20 minutes a day. As the saying goes, “readers are leaders.” Pick up one or two books on an interesting subject you know very little about. Read fiction and non-fiction. If you have a very busy schedule, or often become distracted later in the day, read first thing in the morning or over your lunch break.

    3. Multi-task on your commute to work. Podcasts and audiobooks can help you pass the time in traffic or on the train — and teach you a little something at the same time. Research which podcasts and audiobooks are available on the topic you’d like to learn more about. Read reviews and download a few to your smartphone. Even a short commute will give you enough time to learn a couple new tidbits.

    4. Listen and learn. You may be tempted to walk away from a group conversation if it segues into a topic with which you’re not familiar. Instead, stick around and listen. Ask questions. Offer any insight you have based on your unique experience and perspective.

    5. Sign up for a class. Many municipalities offer adult education classes in a variety of topics that range from painting, creative writing to foreign languages. These classes are typically small, inexpensive and will give you the opportunity to explore an area of interest. If your city or county doesn’t offer classes, contact your local community college or university.

    6. Attend local events. Chances are your area has dozens of groups that regularly get together for social and professional reasons. Most are focused on one thing: an industry or profession, a particular culture or a shared interest. Sign up and go when you have the chance. It’s an opportunity to make new connections and learn something new.

    7. Visit museums and cultural centers. Take advantage of the historical and cultural exhibitions in your area. Visit museums that focus on an area you know very little about. If you have a particular question, most museums have docents who are extremely knowledgeable and would be glad to speak with you or give you a tour.

    8. Venture outside your comfort zone. If you consciously look for opportunities, there are thousands of ways to meet new people and learn about new things. Take advantage of the knowledge your neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances have to offer. Ask questions and be curious. If a particular topic piques your interest, reach out to an expert with a specific question. The world is full of surprises; all you have to do is keep your eyes open.

    Reading is an extremely important skill. It is by reading that you learn much of what you need to know for your different school subjects. Reading is also an excellent way to improve your general English. You can only learn from reading, however, if what you read is not too difficult. For this reason, it is important to know what makes texts difficult and how you can improve your chances of understanding them.

    What makes texts difficult to understand

    Most of your reading difficulties will be caused by a problem on the list below. Of course, when two or more of these problems happen together, your chances of understanding will be even smaller.

    • the text has many unknown words
    • the text has long, complicated sentences
    • the text is about a topic you know nothing about
    • the text is about a topic you find boring
    • the text has small print, long paragraphs, no pictures
    • the text has been badly written
    • you are feeling tired
    • you are distracted
    • you don’t know the important cohesion markers
    • you don’t know why you have been asked to read the text

    How to understand more of what you read

    You can do nothing about some of the reading difficulties: for example, you can�t change the print in a book or make poor writing better. But there are many things you can do that will give you a better chance of understanding what you read. Here are some suggestions:


      1. Know your reading purpose – The way you read a book or a text depends very much on your reasons for reading it. This is why it is so important to know your reading purpose. You should read a question in your math exam differently from an entry in an encyclopaedia which you are looking at quickly to find out the date of an event. The kind of reading you do in class or for your homework is different from how you read a novel for pleasure in the summer vacation.

    If you know your reading purpose – perhaps by looking first at the questions you must answer after reading – you can choose the best reading method.

    If your teacher gives you something to read and doesn’t tell you what you need to find out from the text or what you will do after the reading, ask her (or him)!

    In general, students should be trying to increase their reading speed. (Click to do some speed reading practice.)

    You can sometimes get background information from the text itself. Many writers include a conclusion or summary; if you read this first, it may give you a good start.

    Another aspect of good writing is that each paragraph has a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a sentence, usually the first one in a paragraph, that contains the main idea of the paragraph. If you concentrate on understanding the topic sentence, this may help you to understand what comes next.

    Here are some important cohesion markers: also, therefore, except, unless, however, instead, (al)though, furthermore, moreover, nevertheless, on the other hand, as a result, despite, in conclusion.

    Important : If you have tried the advice above and you still cannot understand a text, then it is simply too hard for you. Stop reading and ask someone to help you (your ESL teacher, for example!). Nobody likes to give up, but you will just be wasting your time if you continue to work at a text that is beyond you.

    What to read

    Most of the time you have to read what your teachers tell you to read. But as you know, reading is an excellent way to improve your English, and so you should try to do some extra reading each week. Here is some advice on how to choose what to read:

    No doubt, most of the readers will be students with little or no experience in reading poetry out loud, especially to such a large group. And we know that a poem will live or die depending on how it is read. What follows, then, are a few pointers about the oral recitation of poetry. The readers, by the way, should not read cold; they should be given their poem a few days in advance so they will have time to practice, maybe in the presence of a teacher. In addition to exposing students to the sounds of contemporary poetry, Poetry 180 can also serve as a way to improve students’ abilities to communicate publicly. Here are a few basic tips:

    1. Read the poem slowly. Most adolescents speak rapidly, and a nervous reader will tend to do the same in order to get the reading over with. Reading a poem slowly is the best way to ensure that the poem will be read clearly and understood by its listeners. Learning to read a poem slowly will not just make the poem easier to hear; it will underscore the importance in poetry of each and every word. A poem cannot be read too slowly, and a good way for a reader to set an easy pace is to pause for a few seconds between the title and the poem’s first line.
    2. Read in a normal, relaxed tone of voice. It is not necessary to give any of these poems a dramatic reading as if from a stage. The poems selected are mostly written in a natural, colloquial style and should be read that way. Let the words of the poem do the work. Just speak clearly and slowly.
    3. Obviously, poems come in lines, but pausing at the end of every line will create a choppy effect and interrupt the flow of the poem’s sense. Readers should pause only where there is punctuation, just as you would when reading prose, only more slowly.
    4. Use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words and hard-to-pronounce words. To read with conviction, a reader needs to know at least the dictionary sense of every word. In some cases, a reader might want to write out a word phonetically as a reminder of how it should sound. It should be emphasized that learning to read a poem out loud is a way of coming to a full understanding of that poem, perhaps a better way than writing a paper on the subject.

    Your Participation

    Poetry 180 has been designed to be easily implemented by your school. Of course, the success of the program ultimately depends on the cooperation of interested teachers and administrators. A meeting of such people at the beginning of the semester would help to determine what needs to be done and who is willing to do it. The program is easy to join and carries only a few responsibilities such as printing out the poems and enlisting readers.

    Thanks

    Whoever contributes to the operation of this program has my deepest thanks. High school teachers are some of the most devoted, hardest working people in any field, and any help you can give this program deserves fervid appreciation. I am hoping that the rewards of Poetry 180 will be felt as immediately as possible and that those involved will find gratification in knowing that high school students across the country are being exposed to poetry in a unique and stimulating way.

    And it’s because you’re preparing for a special occasion where you are going to stand in front of others to deliver the poem you’ve chosen.  Perhaps a birthday celebration.  A wedding. Maybe a funeral. Or a class presentation?

    For many people this is totally terrifying.

    They’re scared they’ll stumble over the words, won’t understand what the poem is about and, consequently make a complete fool of themselves.

    How to be well read

    If that is you, relax.

    A poem is not a poisonous snake. It will not bite and you do not have to tip-toe around it.

    Learning how to read poetry aloud is relatively straightforward and with practice you may even get to enjoy it!

    Step one

    Read your poem through silently several times to familiarize yourself with its core ideas and images.

    The more you understand the poem, the more likely your audience will be able to understand it too.

    Allow yourself to see the images created by the words in your imagination. Likewise feel the emotions.

    The more strongly you identify with or own the poem the easier it will be for your audience to follow.

    Do you know how each word should be said?

    Be sure to look up any unfamiliar words in an online dictionary for their meaning and pronunciation.

    How to eat a poem

    How to be well read

    American poet, Eve Merriam has inspired countless people all over the world to play with poetry by making it accessible and fun.

    Try her poem aloud.
    It’s truly delicious!

    “Don’t be polite.
    Bite in.
    Pick it up with your fingers and lick the
    juice that may run down your chin.
    It is ready and ripe now, wherever you are.

    You do not need a knife or a fork or a spoon
    or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

    For there is no core
    or stem
    or rind
    or pit
    or seed
    or skin
    to throw away.”

    Step Two

    Read the poem quietly aloud to yourself following the guidelines given by the punctuation, listening for its musicality or beat.

    If you need them, there are tips for interpreting punctuation here.

    Read slowly . Allow each word its space. The temptation is to rush. Resist it.

    Once you’ve ‘got the flow’, stand up and read the poem aloud authoritatively.

    Step three

    Now that you’re more confident ‘play’ with your delivery, experimenting with vocal variety.

    For example, what happens if you stress this word rather than that word?

    Say your poem as many ways as you can. Say it loud. Say it soft. Say it gathering speed, getting faster and faster. Say it slow and low.  In short, have fun. Experiment! And record what you do.

    When you play the recordings back you’ll find some of the ways you’ve tried will sound much better than others. Take the ways that work, blend them and try again.

    Poems are very forgiving. You can flub the words and mangle the meaning but they will not break.

    5 different readings of How to eat a poem

    To illustrate how a poem is said, alters how it’s experienced by those listening to it, I recorded Eve Merriam’s poem ‘How to eat a poem’ five different ways.

    Click the link to find out more about playing with vocal variety, the way you say words. 

    Rehearsal and feedback

    Rehearse in front of several friends before going ‘live’.
    Have them give you feed back on:

    1. clarity
      Could they hear and understand your words?
    2. meaning
      Did they understand the images and feelings of the poem?
    3. speaking rate
      Were you speaking too fast or too slowly?
    4. voice
      Too loud, too soft, too high, too low.

    Incorporate their feedback and then present your poem.

    Extra tips on reading poetry aloud

    • Y ou do not need a ‘dramatic’ voice to be successful. An assumed voice will seem artificial and strained.

    Reading poetry aloud is a gift

    The ability to read poetry aloud is a gift of immense value. Because the right poem, read well, expresses with grace and clarity thoughts and feelings that are often difficult to find appropriate words for in ordinary prose.

    For instance I recently read this beautiful  Bub Bridger poem – Wild Daisies  at my niece’s wedding. (See the excerpt below. This is the last segment of the poem.) 

    If you’re wanting a reading about love that is both simple and profound do take a look.  At the reception I got numerous compliments for choosing the poem and for the way I delivered it. Sadly I could only accept half of them – those about its performance as Ruth, my niece, selected it.

    (What great taste she has! ☺)   

    How to be well read

    Would you like to listen to some poems?

    You’ll hear me, Susan, reading them. 

    I recorded these to help people searching for poems to read at a funeral.

    • I am Standing Upon the Seashore
    • Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
    • Funeral Blues
    • Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

    All four are popular choices.

    And there’s also recordings of 6 much loved children’s nonsense poems. You’ll find those here: poems for kids

    Or perhaps you’d like to write and read a poem  of your own?

    It’s not as difficult as you may think to craft something original and special. The result may not be award winning! However that’s not the aim of the exercise. If your wish is to express your thoughts and feelings uniquely, you can.