Speed Reading

Although I am an avid reader, but I never stopped to check my reading speed. It was brought to my notice recently, that how slow I am and how much time I take to process what I read.

The below story brought this to my notice.


Evelyn Wood began to study reading while she was a teacher and girl’s counselor at Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah south of Salt Lake City in 1958. She wanted to help her students in studies by increasing their reading speeds. She researched and developed a remedial method which helped her students to read fast.

But she was not satisfied with it. She believed that reading speeds can be increased more than the already acknowledged 1000 words per min. She believed there are people who can read at very high speed but was not able to find evidence for that.

One day, she went to Professor Lowell Lees, the chairman of Reading and Speech Department of University of Utah, for an eighty page term paper to be corrected. She expected the professor to take that paper and correct it at home and return that back to her the next day as the other professors did. But she was surprised to see that the professor started to read it then and there only. And he corrected her paper in nearly ten mins which made his reading speed at 2500 words per min. She was astonished to see that. She was not able to get any technique that the professor used even after questioning him on it and witnessing his reading.

She also carried out a survey for the people with high reading speeds and found 53 people with reading speed range from 1500 words to 6000 words per min. She studied their reading but was unable to find any particular technique for their speed reading.

She found that there were many great personalities who had high reading speeds. Theodore Roosevelt, the once president of US, had a reading speed of 2500 words per min. He used to complete 3 books in a day during his presidential regime. A famous British Utilitarian Philosopher, John Stuart Mill used to read as fast as he could turn the pages of his book.

One day, she sat reading a book in the park near her house. Although she was reading fast but not as fast as she had seen people do it. In frustration, she threw the book on the ground. But after sometime, she took the book inside and tried reading it again in the evening. But the book had gotten dirty on being thrown at the ground, so she started brushing the dirt aside and suddenly, she noticed that her reading speed increased as her eyes started following her fingers.

So, thus was invented the hand pacing motion, which helps a reader to increase their speed. Our eyes get trained to follow our fingers, even if we increase the speed of our fingers moving across the book, our reading speed increases as our eyes become trained to follow the motion. She also started a program on Speed Reading through this technique in 1959. She has also written many books on the techniques which can help anyone to increase their reading speed.

Thus from this story we can see that we also have the capacity to increase our reading speeds with some effort and good techniques. I intend to increase mine by this way. Its 250 words per min now. My target is to reach at least 700-800 words per min. So, let’s get started on this. 🙂


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