Top 7 Most Famous Speed Readers of All Time
Famous Speed Readers

Top 7 Most Famous Speed Readers of All Time

Famous Speed Readers

Speed reading is a skill that lets you recognize and absorb rapidly the phrases or sentences you are reading. It is a drastic increase in word per minute rate when you are reading while still maintaining your comprehension level. It is an essential skill that not everyone has developed yet. 

Over time, some famous speed readers gained a reputation for reading more than the average reading speed of 238 words per minute for adults. These include President John F. Kennedy, Evelyn Wood, Maria Teresa Calderon, and Howard Stephen Berg, among others. 

How did they become speed readers? They certainly did not acquire this skill in a blink of an eye. It takes time, practice, and dedication to read faster. 

Most importantly, it acknowledges how reading faster can benefit their lives. 

Let’s look at the profile of the most famous speed readers of all time to learn about their reading rates and how they developed this speed reading skill. 

1. President John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy was a strong proponent of speed reading after taking a speed reading course with his brother Bobby Kennedy. He took the course in Baltimore around 1954. He was reported to read 1200 per minute after he took the course. 

He encouraged many in his cabinet to take similar courses and helped make speed reading popular throughout the U.S. in the 1960s.

A passage from the book “Camelot at Dawn” titled “The Speed Reader” describes JFK’s ability to read fast:

“JFK developed a phenomenal ability to read material quickly. For several weeks in the spring of 1954, Jack [his nickname] and Bobby had been traveling to Baltimore to attend a speed reading class at the John Hopkins University’s evening college. Professor Elton Y. Mears taught the class entitled ‘How to Read Better and Faster.’ It met Tuesday evenings from 8:30 to 10:30, and the brothers had to drive more than an hour each way to attend it.”

2. President Jimmy Carter

Another well-known speed reader is U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Coming from a family emphasizing the importance of education and reading at an early age, he was a speed reader who could read up to 2,000 words per minute. 

He also made a significant contribution to The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN) not only because he was a president but also because he helped DALN reach a new milestone of 6000 submissions. 

DALN is a public archived narrative project that collects archives of personal literacy narratives that serve as references and historical records of different literacy practices and values. It was run by the Ohio State University and Georgia State University. 

3. Evelyn Wood

Although not as well known as the two presidents, Evelyn Wood popularized speed reading in the U.S. in the 1960s. She coined the term “speed reading” before it became a conventional phrase. She also had an average speed of 2,500 words per minute. 

After studying the habits of naturally fast readers, she developed a methodology called “Reading Dynamics” that increases one’s pace in reading. It captured public attention, which led her to launch her first speed-reading institute in Washington, D.C. 

Additionally, she is famous for having her methods taught to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. Until the late 1990s, she held her classes frequently at college campuses throughout the U.S. She passed away in 1995 at 86.

4. Maria Teresa Calderon

At 15, Maria Teresa Calderon was an international sensation when the Associated Press of the U.S. reported and publicized her exceptional reading speed. She was called the World’s Fastest Reader” by the Guinness Book of World Records because she set a record of reading 8,000 words per minute and maintained 100% comprehension. 

Because of her outstanding feat, her records were featured in academic journals and the Encyclopedia Britannica Volume 19 in 1971. 

Calderon has a  technique called “gestalting,” which refers to the human’s response as a complete and whole to specific events instead of their sum of responses. However, this seems possible when you have extensive knowledge like Calderon. 

Calderon uses this technique when reading and fills in the gaps of what she is reading from her stock knowledge. This is why she can read faster when the topic is familiar. 

5. Howard Stephen Berg

Another Guinness Book of World Records holder for being the world’s fastest reader is Howard Stephen Berg. In 1990, he set a new record for reading more than 25,000 words per minute and writing over a hundred words per minute. 

Like Calderon, Berg developed a strategy that enabled him to turn information overload into assets. Aside from that, he devised a brain-based strategy for learning that made a breakthrough in different publications, such as Forbes and Bottom Line Magazine, and news outlets in North America. 

Additionally, he created advanced learning programs for speed math and memory. 

As a result, he is internationally known as a speed reader and for his significant contributions to the learning process. 

6. Anne Jones

Anna Jones is famed for being the six-time champion of the World Speed Reading Competition. She can read 784 pages in 47 minutes and still comprehend what she reads. Reports suggest that she can read 4,200 words per minute. 

She tried participating in this competition when her student asked her to have a “go at something.” With her skills, she won the gold medal. Because she wanted to win the competition again the following year, she trained for the event and beat it again. 

Her technique in reading fast includes using a pen as a guide for reading and incorporating the mind mapping skill she just acquired.

She also integrated her knowledge of short-term and long-term memory for her to remember what she read and not compromise her reading comprehension. 

7. Alex Garcez

Alex Garcez is one of the most relatable famous speed readers because he read slowly when he was young. He also believed he had dyslexia, which is why he avoided reading. 

He started developing his reading skills when he was interested in learning again at age 21. Since then, he has developed techniques and methods to enhance his speed reading skills. 

Now, he is a Neuro Linguistic Programming and Learning Difficulties Practitioner. He trains people and has clients among prominent companies to help them develop speed reading skills. 

His training on speed reading guarantees 50% improvement after his students and clients take his course. 


Speed reading is an additional skill that you can acquire. All these famous speed readers have something in common: they learn, develop, and master their strategies and techniques for reading. 

It may take time for others to develop speed reading skills while others may be naturally good at it. Regardless, it would be best if you were willing to learn and try different techniques that work for you. 

If you are at a loss on how to start acquiring or enhancing your speed reading skills, online courses such as Iris Reading’s Speed Reading Foundation are available. 

The Speed Reading Foundation Course provides a comprehensive guide on speed reading. Ideal for students, professionals, and lifelong learners, this course can help you learn practical strategies for enhancing comprehension.

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Speedy History of Speed Reading


  • Michael Crouch

    Richard Nixon and his wife were also speed readers.