Is Slow Reading Bad? Are Slow Readers Dumb?


Most readers whom you meet will try to increase the reading speed with time. However, in doing so, they often criticize your reading speed as well.

This brings us to the most important question is slow reading bad?

Rather than just assuming the myths, it is a good idea to find a concrete answer to this question. Once you know the concrete answer, you will realize how you should pace your reading sessions.

Is slow reading bad?

Slow reading isn't bad, because you can better grasp the topic, think of the ideas in a book and remember more details.

I will go into the details of these for the reasons below. However, they are some of the most common reasons why an individual might read slow.

Why do you read slow?

I will highlight the few reasons now why you might be reading slow.

1. Need for imagination

Many times, when you’re reading something, there is always a need to imagine as well. Imagination and reading at a faster pace can hardly happen at the same time.

That is why, when there is a need to imagine what you’re reading, your reading speed will slow down. That, however, does not mean that there is any problem with your understanding or memory.

2. Understanding punctuation

Often, while reading, we ignore the punctuation. In most of the sentences, ignoring the punctuation will not cause a problem.

However, if the sentence is long and complex, missing out on the punctuation will make it difficult for you to understand the sentence. In most cases, you have to read such sentences by part by part.

If you lack the understanding of punctuation or take time for you to understand it, your reading speed will undoubtedly slow down. In that case, there is hardly anything that you can do other than increasing your comprehension of punctuation.

3. Limited vocabulary

When you read a book, you will come across new words. However, if your vocabulary is limited, you cannot understand the context of what is being said in the book. In that case, refer to the dictionary to find the meaning of that word repeatedly.

The problem is that unless you expand your vocabulary, it will not be easy for you to increase your reading speed.

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Due to the same, your limited vocabulary can be one of the primary reasons why you are reading slow.

4. To avoid rereading

Many readers do not like to read the same lines or same paragraphs again and again. They hate it so much that they try to grasp each and everything in the very first attempt.

To do so, they often read slow. Reading slowly ensures that you can focus on every word rather than skimming through the text.

This is more of a habit or a convenience rather than a problem. That is why; if your reading speed is slow and you can avoid rereading, there is nothing wrong with that.

There are quite a few reasons why you might be reading slow. You have to look at the above reasons, and after that, you can certainly understand your slow reading behavior.

I will now highlight why it is a good idea to read slow.

Why is it perfectly fine to read slow?

Slow reading is perfectly fine as well. It does not indicate that there is a problem with your memory or concentration power.

As you can see, there can be quite a few reasons why you are reading slow. Due to the same, it is perfectly fine to read slow.

Is slow reading a sign of dyslexia?

Problems in reading can be a symptom of dyslexia. However, reading slowly is not necessarily a sign of dyslexia.

Just because your kids are reading slowly does not mean that they have dyslexia. Only when they have problems in reading or recognizing words can it be a sign of dyslexia.

Other than that, slow reading is not a symptom of the same.

The other alternative to slow reading is fast reading. However, there are a few reasons why fast reading might not be beneficial for everybody. I will cover these reasons below.

Why fast reading might not be beneficial for everybody?

There are a few disadvantages of fast reading as well. I will highlight why fast reading might not be suitable for everyone.

1. Difficult to retain

Not everyone has the same grasping power.

However, when you’re reading faster, you might not be able to retain a lot. In that case, even if you complete the book in a shorter time, you won’t be able to retain much. Consequently, there will be no use in reading the book.

2. Missing out on text

When you’re trying to read fast and putting pressure on yourself to read fast, it can become really difficult for you to go through each phrase and every line. Ultimately, you will start missing out on text.

Once you start missing out on text, it will become difficult for you to gain anything from reading the book.

You will merely be reading the book as an exercise rather than to gain some joy and knowledge from the book.

What use is reading then?

It is another reason why fast reading might not be suitable for you.

3. Lack of context

As I have highlighted above, reading fast can make it difficult for you to retain things. In that case, as you progress through the book, you will lack context as well.

When you lack context, you will not understand anything in the latter half of the book.

One of the sole reasons you might read fast is to ensure that you complete the book soon and read more. However, it will become difficult for you to complete the book without rereading it if you lose context. When you reread the book, you will lose your precious time.

These are the reasons why reading fast might not be suitable for everyone.

This brings us to another question, whether you should opt for fast reading or slow reading?

I will tackle this question below.

Is it better to read slow or fast?

Whether you should read fast or slow depends entirely on the individual. I will highlight both of these cases below.

When should you read slow?

If your vocabulary is not that expensive, it is better to read slow. Similarly, if you do not want to miss out on any information while reading, it is advisable to read slow.

When should you read fast?

In case you can grasp new ideas quite quickly and imagine at a brisk pace, you can certainly read fast. If your goal is to cover as many books as possible without taking up a lot of information, once again, it makes perfect sense for you to read fast.

That is why whether you read slow or fast will be dependent on your needs and your grasping power.

There are a few tips, however, which you can follow to increase your reading speed.

Can I speed up my reading?

I will now highlight a few tips which you can follow to increase your reading speed.

1. Improve your vocabulary

If you just rely on the books to improve your vocabulary, you will initially start reading slow. However, if you undertake extra steps to improve your vocabulary, like going through word apps and playing games like Scrabble, you can certainly improve your vocabulary.

Once your vocabulary is extensive, it will become easier for you to read fast.

2. Read a little louder

If you want to increase your comprehension power, it is a good idea to read a little louder. It will become easier to understand things at even a brisk pace when you read a little louder. Consequently, you can increase your reading speed.

3. Opt for goal-based reading

One of the best ways to read faster is to keep a goal for yourself. The goal can be like reading 25 pages in an hour.

You can also break down this goal by reading 13 pages and half an hour. When you have such a goal, it will become easier for you to read faster. You can keep distractions at bay as well.

You can keep a timer in front of you to help you out. Then, it will be easier to increase your reading speed.

4. Take breaks

You might be thinking, won’t break slow you down?

Of course, when you’re reading just 20 pages, there is no need to take a break. However, if you’re planning to read 200 pages in a day, breaks are a necessity. That is because as you read more, monotony can creep in. Once you find reading monotonous, your reading speed will slow down.

In that case, when you take a break after an hour, you can rejuvenate your mind. You can prevent saturation as well.

When you prevent saturation and rejuvenate your concentration power, your reading speed will go up once again.

With these four tips, you can certainly read fast.


Slow reading is not necessarily bad. In fact, for many readers, slow reading might be a good idea as well. However, if you still want to increase your reading speed, you can follow my guide above.

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