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The Art of Slow Reading

Six Time-Honored Practices for Engagement

By Thomas Newkirk

Tom recuperates six time-honored practices of reading—performance, memorization, centering, problem-finding, reading like a writer, and elaboration—to help readers engage in thoughtful, attentive reading.

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“Tom Newkirk’s call to appreciate the value of slow reading is both timely and important, especially in an era where skimming and click-and-go reading have become the norm for our students. Newkirk reminds us that our deepest reading pleasures are often found when we slow down and pay close attention, and this book clearly demonstrates how slow reading deepens the thinking of both teachers and students. A must-read for anyone concerned about the state of reading—you will enjoy reading The Art of Slow Reading slowly.” Kelly Gallagher, author of Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It

“This beautiful and hugely important book overflows with advice and wisdom about reading—enjoying it, teaching it. Newkirk reminds us why words matter, that words on page or screen are not there just to be ‘processed,’ but to savor and enjoy, to help us think and see more clearly, to touch our hearts and help us touch the world.” Mike Rose, author of Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us
(Read Mike Rose's blog)

“If someone were to ask me who to read, what to read, and how to read it, I would say, without hesitating, they should read Tom Newkirk, read The Art of Slow Reading, and read it slowly, again and again. He is to reading and teaching, literacy and learning what Michael Pollan is to food and eating. Tom Newkirk gives us permission to take our time when we read, to remember why we read, and to take from that reading not just the nutrients and knowledge but the pleasure we sought to cultivate in our students—and ourselves—in the past.” Jim Burke, author of The English Teacher’s Companion and What’s the Big Idea?

“This book challenges popular notions of reading—the idea that quick, extractive reading is the goal for students. I argue that traditional acts of ‘slow reading’—memorization, performance, annotation, and elaboration—are essential for deep, pleasurable, thoughtful reading.” Thomas Newkirk

This important book rests on a simple but powerful belief—that good readers practice the art of paying attention. Building on memoir, research, and many examples of classroom practice, Thomas Newkirk, recuperates six time-honored practices of reading—performance, memorization, centering, problem-finding, reading like a writer, and elaboration—to help readers engage in thoughtful, attentive reading.

The Art of Slow Reading provides preservice and inservice teachers with concrete practices that for millennia have promoted real depth in reading. It will show how these practices enhance the reading of a variety of texts, from Fantastic Mr. Fox to The Great Gatsby to letters from the IRS.

Just as slow reading is essential for real comprehension, it is also clearly crucial to the deep pleasure we take in reading—for the way we savor texts—and for the power of reading to change us.

Tom's Washington Post article: Reading is not a race: The virtues of the 'slow reading' movement

Additional Resource Information

(click any section below to continue reading)


1. About Slowness 
2. The Speed Curriculum  
3. Reading Goes Silent: Performing
4. Learning by Heart: Memorizing 
5. Making a Mark: Centering
6. The Pleasures of Difficulty: Problem Finding
7. A Writer’s Choices: Reading Like a Writer 
8. Opening a Text: Elaborating
Epilogue: Why Can’t They Be Like We Were, Perfect in Every Way?



The Art of Slow Reading: Six Time-Honored Practices for Engagement teaches a different kind of literacy: one based on slow absorption that links reading t life-changing experiences. The basics of developing critical thinking processes are promoted in the context of developing slow, thoughtful reading habits in students. Chapters consider everything from writing to reading aloud and provide proven techniques for engagement. Any educator's collection needs this!

-The Midwest Book Review, March 2012

The Art of Slow Reading provides an outstanding survey that identifies and teaches the value of slow reading processes over speed reading and skimming. It comes packed with advice on how to get the most from reading, from making time to read, to memorizing and pondering upon meaningful phrases in the course of reading. From memory research to developing good mental habits that lend to better reading experiences, The Art of Slow Reading is a top recommendation for any literary or general collection.

-The Midwest Book Review, February 2012