So my girlfriend is not what you would call a fast reader. She understands completely what she reads, but she reads rather slowly. I'm trying to be a good boyfriend and help her out with this, but the only two things I can think of that would help are getting her to read a lot and maybe being read to. I know in my personal experience that being read to helped to improve my reading speed but I may just be an outlier. I guess what I'm trying to say is this: "is being read to actually something that improves reading speed?" and "other than the aforementioned methods, are there other ways to improve reading speed?"

  • $\begingroup$ Most people [citation needed] can read much faster than they can speak. Unless we're talking about incredibly slow reading, I would imaging that being read to would end up being quite a bit slower. $\endgroup$
    – Eoin
    May 26, 2015 at 12:18

4 Answers 4


There is no scientific proof that being read at an adult age enhances reading speed.

However, slow readers read faster when the format of a document is enhanced. Is your partner more responsive to a specific background color, a particular contrast or a particular font? Such visu-attentional factors play a fundamental role in our ability to read.

You may want to investigate the letter spacing effect for example. It has been shown that children with dyslexia read faster and with less errors when a paragraph is less crowded. Here are two paragraphs written with the exact same font (spacing between lines and spacing between letters are wider in the second paragraph, with an extra space between words).

Here is the image:

enter image description here

There is also a ton of other possibilities that can be tested using a word processor such as Microsoft Word (spacing is sometimes called kerning), or activating the Accessibility option in Mac's preferences. What you have to keep in mind is that, once you find a combination that feels OK, reading a lot makes you read faster.

REF: Zorzi et al. (PNAS, 2012). Extra-large letter spacing improves reading in dyslexia. http://www.pnas.org/content/109/28/11455.short


I would recommend two solutions. One is that you learn to read for understanding not speed unless it is a fluffy novel. You can read fluff at light speed because there is nothing there to challenge understanding. You have to read differently for different subjects and types of material. A book that is an incredible help for learning to read different subjects and materials is http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Book-Intelligent-Touchstone/dp/0671212095 "How to read a book: a guide to intelligent reading"

That is one solution the other is, figure out what substance might fix some sort of deficit of substances in the brain. For me having had schizoaffective I had a deficit of pregnenolone in my hippocampus. I learned about this substance by researching my illness and reading from others with similar experiences on the forums at forum.schizophrenia.com So: If you think pregnenolone is in short supply then you could get it real cheap at great quality at pipingrock.com I only take half of a 50 mg dose. Do your research on this and other nootropics, that is what cognition enhancing substances are called, then experiment.

I was a slow reader, it could take me an hour to read a page in my academic text for social problems and solutions course and I would fall asleep and not read anything, now I can read anything without getting tired for hours because I found what my brain needed. Preg helps others with out the deficit too so it might be worth a try.


I can't see why simply being read to would improve your girlfriend's reading speed; after all, except for the possibility that she might thereby be exposed to more literary language than she usually encounters in speech, it would be little different from hearing someone narrating a documentary or describing something on the radio. (Here, I am disregarding the benefits from potentially strengthening the bond between you in the course of reading to her.)

Without knowing exactly why your girlfriend's reading speed is low, I can only make the preliminary suggestion that if you do decide to read to her, you do so from your copy of the text in question, and have her simultaneously follow it in her own copy. That would at least give her the experience of (I assume) reading faster than normal without the pressure of struggling to decipher the words by herself at a rate that she would find uncomfortable or onerous, and perhaps begin to give her the sense that she could read faster if she wanted to, or if she actively decided to try to speed up her reading. It will, of course, help quite a bit if you are able to read aloud without stumbling, and can make your delivery expressive and engaging. It is also highly desirable that the text you are reading is entertaining to her, and/or that it corresponds to what she finds interesting.

However, there are really some other questions that should be answered before you draw any conclusions about the best method for increasing her reading speed. For instance:

1) How does your girlfriend's reading speed actually compare with the average? Is it in the normal range, or is it exceptionally slow?

2) Does she noticeably struggle to read, or does she just read at a speed that is comfortable for her?

3) Does your girlfriend subjectively consider her reading speed to be a problem? Objectively speaking, is it an obstacle in some necessary aspect of everyday life?

4) If she struggles to read, what is the underlying reason? Is it merely lack of practice, or does she have dyslexia or some other cognitive obstacle?

If there seems to be some reason to suspect the latter, then some kind of professional input may be required.

I hope this is helpful.


The way to improve your (or your girlfriend's) reading speed, is to, well, read faster.

There are courses available do this by forcing your eyes along a passage by either highlighting or displaying a word or groups of words for a set amount of time. As you progress through the course, the time between word groups gets shorter.

There are many resources online for speed reading courses. You should be able to find free courses pretty easily.

Another tool is http: // www . spritzlet . com (I don't have the rep for this link), which will display single words for a user-set amount of time. This tool is very useful, since it also highlights the middle of the word, increasing shape recognition.

These tools can also help her get a baseline for what other answerers have mentioned: How is her average speed in general? Google says 300 words per minute is average. That's just a little bit more than a full page of double-spaced, 12-point text on a letter-sized page.

I will tell you that reading quickly has less to do with comprehension in general and more to do with word recognition. How many times have you read a page in a book, but not absorbed it? Have her read this paragraph. If she can do it (even slowly), then she probably doesn't have a problem with word recognition.


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