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I'm looking for a word describing the activity of going through a book page by page, looking at each page but not necessarily actually reading the text. Like what small children do with books. As they do not actually read the books, the word read is not the one I am looking for.

I considered the expression to look at a book, but this expression seems to be ambiguous because it could be understood as just to look at the cover of the book without opening it and without looking inside it.

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Going by the title of your question, I think that most native speakers would immediately think of the word skim. According to Wordnik:

skim (verb) To read or glance through (a book, for example) quickly or superficially.

Reading the body of your question, though, I'm not sure I'd use the word skim to describe a child going through a book page by page, looking at each page but not necessarily actually reading the text. For that, I might be more inclined to use the word glance. As Collins says:

glance (verb) If you glance through or at a newspaper, report, or book, you spend a short time looking at it without reading it very carefully.

You can also use the phrasal verb flipped through, especially if you'd like to emphasize the way the child is turning the pages, as opposed to examining the content. According to Macmillan:

flipped through (phrasal verb) flip through something to quickly look through a magazine or book

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  • Thx, all these words imply a quick or superficial activity, usually for a short period of time. Which word/expression would you use for a child going through a picture book page by page, looking at each picture without rush, maybe even very thoroughly? Apr 8, 2019 at 10:13
  • @Min-SooPipefeet - The child went through the book, staring at each page.
    – J.R.
    Apr 8, 2019 at 10:28
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"Skimming" or "speed-reading" are two terms commonly used.

"Skimming" tends to describe quickly looking through a book, observing chapter headings, main points etc.

"Speed reading" does involve some reading but is the skill of reading something quickly and absorbing key points without concentrating too much on the finer detail.

Example:

"Did you read the book?"
"No, I just skimmed through it".

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  • Thx, these words/expressions imply a quick or superficial activity, usually for a short period of time. Which word/expression would you use for a child going through a picture book page by page, looking at each picture without rush, maybe even very thoroughly? Apr 8, 2019 at 10:13

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