Teachers know how important it is for students to read their textbooks. The textbook provides essential information about content material. Reading the textbook helps prepare students for classroom discussion and participation.

Although textbook reading is not done for entertainment, students often read their textbooks in the same way they read books for pleasure. They begin with the first page of the chapter, and read to the end of the chapter, without stopping.

While this method is fine for novels, it is not enough for the level of understanding, and retention needed for most textbooks.

A study method like SQ3R is needed for textbook reading. The acronym SQ3R stands for the five steps involved in this study process. They are: survey, question, read, recite and review. Below is an explanation of the steps involved in SQ3R:


This step helps your child gather the information necessary to focus on the chapter. Have your child skim through the textbook, and read the title, headings and subheadings, the introduction, the summary, and any graphics and/or reading aids in the chapter.


Formulating questions is an important step in SQ3R because the mind becomes actively engaged in the learning process when it is searching for answers. Have your child turn the boldface headings in the chapter into one or more questions. As your child reads each section of the chapter, he/she will be looking for the answer to those questions.


Have your child read one section of the chapter at a time. As he/she reads each section, have him/her write the answers, in his/her own words, under each question he/she formulated in the previous step.

Reading the sections of the chapter fills in the information around the mental framework your child built while surveying the chapter and developing questions about each section.

This step, and the next two, recite and review, are repeated over and over as your child reads the chapter.


Reciting material trains the mind to concentrate and learn as it reads. Reciting should be done at the end of each section of the chapter. Have your child cover his/her answers, and check if he/she can answer the questions. If your child cannot recall the answers, have him/her reread the section or the part of the section that has to do with that question.

When your child can answer all of the questions in a section, have him/her go back to step two, and quiz himself/herself on the next section, reread the section, if necessary, and then recite again. Proceed through all of the sections in the chapter repeating these three steps.


Since people learn through repetition, this step provides another opportunity for practice. Repetition enhances the recall of information and builds memory.

Once your child finishes the entire chapter using the survey, question, read and recite steps, have him/her review all of his/her questions for that chapter. Have him/her cover the answers to the questions, and quiz himself/herself. If your child forgets some of the answers, have him/her reread that section of the chapter to refresh his/her memory. Then have him/her recite the answer again.

Now that you know about SQ3R, have your child select one class for which he/she will use this method to read the chapters for the next reading assignment.

Elizabeth Hamilton has master’s degrees in education and the arts. She is a teacher with 30 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner@yahoo.com with your questions or comments.

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