Literacy

The great unread

Is your New Year's resolution to read more? You could always bluff it, argues Pierre Bayard.

These lies we tell to others are first and foremost lies we tell ourselves, for we have trouble acknowledging even to ourselves that we haven't read the books that are deemed essential. And here, as in so many other domains of life, we show an astonishing ability to reconstruct the past to better conform to our wishes.

Once Again...The Most Literate Cities

LiveScience furnishes the list of the most well-read urbanites in the U.S. this year, and two cities continue to lead the pack, Minneapolis and Seattle.

The survey focused on 69 U.S. cities with populations of 250,000 or above. Jack Miller, President of Central Connecticut State University chose six key indicators to rank literacy. These included newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources.

To live with books, perchance to read them

An apology may be in order. How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, the slim French bestseller which has become a sleeper hit in English translation this fall, may have a fantastic but faulty title. That's because unlike, say, the news summary magazine The Week, or the chic advice guide In the Know: The Classic Guide to Being Cultured and Cool, How to Talk... is not intended to help you cheat at life by appearing more sophisticated or educated than you really are. Indeed, the author Pierre Bayard has a sheepish admission to make. theglobeandmail.com Has The Review/Interview.

Lack of Reading Leads to Lee Open-mindedness

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on reading habits. See their discussion of an article taken from the New Yorker magazine. Wall Street Journal, "Informed Reader", December 19, 2007; Page B11. 'Age of Innocence' Eclipsed By Age of Streaming Media: THE NEW YORKER -- DEC. 24 & 31
"The reading of literature has declined so sharply that some sociologists believe it will one day become an arcane hobby. But the really bad news, says writer Caleb Crain, is that as literary reading erodes, so does open-mindedness."
"Replacing time spent with the printed word are television and other forms of streaming media, which engage people on a much more direct and emotional level than reading. While emotional responses can be useful -- say, for evaluating a political candidate's personality -- they also can foster intolerance for opposing viewpoints. Consider the difference, says Mr. Crain, between reading an anger-inducing article and watching a television program that serves up different viewpoints. The former can be amusing, but the latter can feel nearly unbearable -- and it is all too easy to change the channel to something more comfortable..."
Read more about it at: www.wsj.com

What will life be like if people stop reading?

Twilight of the Books Caleb Crain over at The New Yorker:

The reader is also alone, but the N.E.A. reports that readers are more likely than non-readers to play sports, exercise, visit art museums, attend theatre, paint, go to music events, take photographs, and volunteer. Proficient readers are also more likely to vote. Perhaps readers venture so readily outside because what they experience in solitude gives them confidence. Perhaps reading is a prototype of independence. No matter how much one worships an author, Proust wrote, “all he can do is give us desires.” Reading somehow gives us the boldness to act on them. Such a habit might be quite dangerous for a democracy to lose.

Information Literacy partners

This was posted last week by the Shifted Librarian, but thought I'd pass it on.

"Karen Markey is a faculty member in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. Earlier this year, she received a small grant from the Delmas Foundation to build a prototype online board game that teaches students information-literacy skills. Her game prototype is now fully operational and is being tested and evaluated by a class of 75 undergraduates at the University of Michigan."

Karen is now looking for some help to further test her idea. So take a look at the posting for more information.

Doris Lessing's Nobel Lecture: On not winning the Nobel Prize

An English professor sent me this link to Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize Lecture, "On not winning the Nobel Prize" - . It's really an extraordinary speech, one that deserves to be heard by librarians everywhere.

The storyteller is deep inside everyone of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is attacked by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise ... but the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us – for good and for ill. It is our stories, the storyteller, that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, what we are at our best, when we are our most creative.

Spell wears off as children ditch books

The end of the Harry Potter saga has seen children ditching books in favour of their PCs, according to a new survey.

JK Rowling's series on the pint-sized wizard took the plaudits for the surge in children's improved literacy, but as his magic starts to wear off, children are becoming less enthusiastic about reading. Results show the next generation of young readers are not as enthralled in the books as children who were brought up on Harry Potter and as a result Scottish children have recently lost confidence in their reading ability.

Eurodollywood: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Expands to United Kingdom

Entertainment superstar Dolly Parton was at London’s Savoy Hotel today and travels to the Magna Science and Adventure Park in Rotherham tomorrow to announce the launch of her Imagination Library program in the United Kingdom.

Where the Wild Things Came From

Slate.com: By the end of the 19th century, the art in kids' books had become madcap and zany and irreverent. From the postwar period, one can trace the imagery and style that are familiar from the classics of one's own childhood. Jump on over to Slate.com to see a slide show on the history of children's book illustration in the United States, based on Timothy G. Young's new book, Drawn To Enchant.

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