Introduction to Summary Skills

Evaluate summary skills for reading comprehension

Have you read the book Animal Farm, by George Orwell? It’s required reading at many schools, but don’t worry if you either haven’t read it or don’t remember much about it. The following video offers an interesting synopsis of the book to refresh your memory.

(Note: the video contains adult language.)

  • This is likely not the kind of summary you might be used to seeing for school books, but was it effective for you?
  • Do you feel that you have a good understanding of what the book was about, just from watching this video? If you have read the book, does this┬áserve as an accurate representation of what you remember?
  • Would you be tempted to read the book, after watching this video?

What Summaries Do

The following pages will detail more about how summaries of reading material work most effectively. Consider this video as an example as you read.

Note that the video only used one direct quotation, and that wasn’t even from Animal Farm. The quote comes as part of the analysis component, serving to emphasize a point about the interpretation of the book. The entire plot summary of the book relies on paraphrase, instead.

Note also that the summary and the analysis components are distinctly divided, so that it’s very clear for viewers to tell what is objective plot recap, and what is subjective interpretation of the text.

What You Will Learn To Do

  • evaluate annotation strategies
  • evaluate strategies to paraphrase a text’s thesis statement
  • evaluate strategies to quote significant passages from a text
  • evaluate strategies to distinguish a text’s major claims from minor ones
  • evaluate strategies to convey the essential features of a text to someone who hasn’t read it