Literacy

Private Readers, Public Readers

Motoko Rich's essay in the NYTimes "The Book Club With Just One Member", discusses the personal side of reading and how 'sharing' books, via GoodReads, Shelfari, Twitter, Facebook and book groups socializes the previously solitary occupation of reading.

You are invited to read others opinions and post your own about book groups, etc. here on the Arts Beat Blog.

It's Not 'Doomsday for Books' But A Bright Note for the English Language

From the embattled frontline of the Anglo-American books world there seems to be nothing but bad news. Borders has fallen. Waterstone's, once a mighty citadel, is beseiged. Well-known literary agents are scurrying round town in search of life-saving mergers. Advances have hit rock bottom. The celebrity memoir is going the way of the dodo. The ebook is the future. Libraries, comprehensively digitised by Google, have become mausoleums of an ossifying tradition.

But in his column in Guardian UK, columnist Robert McCrum finds the upside of publishing in 2010. He tells us that all is not lost; that the magic of the English language has gone beyond all those locations where the sun never sets and has completely encircled and embraced the globe. The emergence of English as a global communications phenomenon with a supra-national momentum that gives it an independence from its Anglo-American roots is at once thrilling and decisive.

These Libraries Are Going To The Dogs

Library cats have garnered nationwide media coverage recently. Not wishing to offend canine loving readers, today's post gives library dogs equal time. Libraries across the country from Swampscott, MA. to San Jose, CA. are making exceptions to that arcane "No Dogs Allowed " rule for a program proven to help struggling young readers.

New Envoy’s Old Advice for Children: Read More

Profile of 'Bridge to Terabithia' author Katherine Paterson, who is to be appointed the national ambassador for young people's literature today. Story in the New York Times.

She discusses her lonely childhood growing up as the daughter of missionaries in China, and her subsequent travels in Japan. "Books", she said, were "where the friends were."

Bookstore Night in Buenos Aires Encourages Reading

In Argentina over the weekend, Buenos Aires held its annual Noche de las Librerias — Bookstore Night. The city closes a main avenue, and places sofas and chairs where cars and trucks normally idle. People with books from the many bookstores lining the avenue, lounge in the seating and a festival atmospherel replaces traffic.

Story on Morning Edition

A holiday guide to books for kids

The Washington Post has an article today by Jay Matthews, "A holiday guide to books for kids" [This is his column for the Local Living section Dec. 17, 2009].

I share this secret only with recluses like myself who lack the imagination to conceive of any gift better than a book. If you are buying for a child — particularly if you are in a last-minute Christmas shopping panic — scan this list compiled by a company called Renaissance Learning.

It is an amazing document. Parents who keep track of what their children are doing in school, particularly in this area, might be vaguely aware of Renaissance Learning and its famous product, Accelerated Reader, the most influential reading program in the country. It was started 23 years ago by Judi Paul and her husband, Terry, after she invented on her kitchen table a quizzing system to motivate their children to read.

Students read books, some assigned but many chosen on their own, and then take computer quizzes, either online or with Accelerated Reader software, to see whether they understood what they read. Students compile points based in part on the difficulty and length of each book and sometimes earn prizes from their schools. -- Read More

In Afghanistan, our boys are reading from the front

The Times has an interesting article today on British soldiers in Afghanistan who read stories to their children back home. December 15, 2009. "In Afghanistan, our boys are reading from the front;
Fighting overseas doesn’t stop British soldiers telling their children bedtime stories." by Helen Rumbelow.
Andi Gray is married to the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards. Before he left, Lieutenant-Colonel Toby Gray recorded one CD for the youngest of their four children, five-year-old Johnny, and the eldest, 15-year-old Madeleine. The nine-year-old twins are getting theirs soon, as soon as Toby gets enough time in between combat to record a story in the Afghanistan mountains.

Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy is a group of 17 media, policy and community leaders. Its purpose is to assess the information needs of communities, and recommend measures to help Americans better meet those needs.

The Knight Commission sees new thinking about news and information as a necessary step to sustaining democracy in the digital age. It thus follows in the footsteps of the 1940s Hutchins Commission and the Kerner and Carnegie Commissions of the 1960s.

But in the digital age the stakes are even higher. Technological, economic and behavioral changes are dramatically altering how Americans communicate. Communications systems no longer run along the lines of local communities, and the gap in access to digital tools and skills is wide and troubling.

The Commission seeks to start a national discussion – leading to real action. Its aims are to maximize the availability and flow of credible local information; to enhance access and capacity to use the new tools of knowledge and exchange; and to encourage people to engage with information and each other within their geographic communities.

Website of the Knight Commission here.
Full PDF of report: Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy

Do Nothing But Read Day

Break out the comfy clothes and stacks of books: A UW-Madison SLIS student is initiating the first annual Do Nothing But Read Day, set for Sunday, December 20th. There's even a sign-up option with prizes...a sort of grown-up version of Book-It.

How our brains learned to read

How our brains learned to read
The brain in its modern form is about 200,000 years old, yet brain imaging shows reading taking place in the same way and in the same place in all brains. To within a few millimetres, human brains share a reading hotspot - what Stanislas Dehaene calls the "letterbox" - on the bottom of the left hemisphere.
(From a review of Reading in the Brain: The science and evolution of a human invention by Stanislas Dehaene)
Thanks Ender!

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