War and Peace in 20 Minutes? Dream On

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By Nancy Cushen White and Carolyn D. Cowen

March 2016

Woody Allen once said, “I took a speed reading course where you run your finger down the middle of the page and was able to read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It’s about Russia.” As Phyllis Mindell said in her letter to the editor of The New York Times in response to Evelyn Wood’s 1995 obituary, “If you want to know ‘it’s about Russia,’ speed right through, but if you care what it says, you must read.” 

The following articles review the science of reading, speed reading, and comprehension—and implications for those who might be tempted to try speed-reading training or speed-reading apps:

Speed Reading: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but Can You Sometimes Get What You Need?

So Much to Read, So Little Time: How Do We Read, and Can Speed Reading Help?

It turns out, there is a trade-off between speed and accuracy and between speed and comprehension. If you really want to know what these articles say, don’t speed through them. Read!

Nancy Cushen White, Ed.D., is the Editor of the Examiner; a Learning Specialist; Clinical Professor, University California San Francisco; and Past IDA National Board Member.

Carolyn D. Cowen, Ed.M., is the Social Media Editor/Strategist for the International Dyslexia Association’sExaminer. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Newgrange School, Ann Robinowitz Education Center, and Laurel School and on the Board of Directors for the Research Institute for Learning and Development.

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