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How many times does an average teen have to read To Kill A Mockingbird to be able to...

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lovelyloooo | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:45 PM via web

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How many times does an average teen have to read To Kill A Mockingbird to be able to fully understand the book?

What I mean is, how many times does a teen with an average IQ have to read the To Kill A Mockingbird to understand the book's quotes/lines, themes, etc.?

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tolchowy | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:37 PM (Answer #2)

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There is no single answer to this question.  A student's ability to comprehend a text is dependent on an individual's reading comprehension skills--the reading strategies that are used and the level at which a student is able to decode vocabulary.  To read more effectively a reader should use skills like questioning the texts while reading, making connections to the readers own life and experiences and reading with a purpose (know what you're looking for before reading). 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:06 AM (Answer #3)

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First off, I would say that no one ever “fully” understands any text. For example, an expert scholar of To Kill a Mockingbird (or an expert on any text) would probably say he/she has read the book dozens of times and has found something new or reinterpreted something differently. This is just the nature of our subjectivity, historical changes in perception and the importance of the reader’s interpretation. This is one of the fundamentals of modern literary analysis. No one can ever fully understand a text because any text can be interpreted in multiple ways. But, experts do have a fuller understanding because they are practiced readers and have studied a text multiple times.

But, if you’re asking a more practical question such as, “how many times does an average student have to read the book in order to get the general themes,” then I’d say it does depend on the student’s reading ability and how much practice they’ve had in reading. I think the average student can get the general themes from one reading if he/she has a good teacher who encourages the student’s own interpretations while also explaining the themes, style, historical background and criticism that already exist on this book. Without a comprehensive and interactive study of the book, you may have to read it more than once.

Even with a comprehensive study, I would encourage rereading any book because you’re bound to find something new. And practically speaking, the more you read, the better you become at critical reading. This is analogous to playing a musical instrument. The more you practice, the better you become. The more you practice a particular piece of music, like Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the better you will become at playing that particular song. Likewise, the more you read To Kill a Mockingbird, the better you will become at finding and interpreting meaning in that book and in your overall reading ability.

 

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