Alexander Luis Ortiz Ocaña, an academic of the Pedagogic and Didactic Studies Center of Barranquilla, Colombia, proposes to take into account eight points before reading a book:
1) Read –and above all, interpret- the title of the book to see if it corresponds to the theme you search.
2) Analyze the index paying special attention to the chapter titles.
3) Review carefully the chapters and sub-chapters, and other divisions of those chapters likely to be useful.
4) Locate the place and date of publishing of the book to determine its validity, as it may contain information related to an environment not applicable to the task, or out of date.
5) Read the prologue or presentation of the book (if there is one) with the purpose of identifying objectives, audience of readers to which it is directed, and people who participated in its making.
6) Read the book´s introduction (which contains different information than the prologue) to locate the ideas or theories in which the text is based, and its theoretical or practical importance.
7) Read the epilogue or conclusions given by the author to infer the emphasis, treatment, and scope of the contents.
8) Review the terms glossary to make sure whether the topic you search appears developed in the contents of the book.
The proposal may seem, at first sight, tricky and difficult, but its usefulness to effectively search for information is beyond any doubt. If we take into account that this review only takes minutes (as even the reading of the prologue, introduction, and conclusions can be done quickly), the time devoted to it will undoubtedly be a profitable investment.
To have students asses a book before starting disorderly to search on it has to be a teaching objective and a concern of teachers; it is their job to foster this learning, and the students’ to make it into a habit.