My five-year-old son started reading when he was two, and when he reads aloud now, he likes to readjustasfastashepossiblycan. I don’t know if he’s showing off, or just enjoying the thrill of discovering his own abilities. Maybe his speed-reading is the brainiac equivalent of flexing and posing.
In any case, Lindsay Waters of Harvard University Press writes in the Feb. 9 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education about the dangers of reading too fast and too soon: “In departments of education, professors talk about the ‘fluency’ that those who are learning to read need to achieve to become good readers,” she writes. “Unless one can digest the letters on the page fast enough, one cannot comprehend what one is reading. But once one learns how to read, there is a speed beyond which one stops reading in a truly effective way. I am convinced that most speed-reading is impaired reading, just like the sort you do when you have a fever or are tired or engaged in other tasks at the same time you are supposed to be reading. Unless you are very smart, speed-reading forces you to ignore all but one dimension of a literary work, the simplest information. What we lose is the enjoyment that made people turn to literature in the first place.”
I’ll try that argument on my kid and see what he thinks.