Literacy

Literacy

White bread for young minds, says university professor

Google is “white bread for the mind”, and the internet is producing a generation of students who survive on a diet of unreliable information, a professor of media studies will claim this week.

In her inaugural lecture at the University of Brighton, Tara Brabazon will urge teachers at all levels of the education system to equip students with the skills they need to interpret and sift through information gleaned from the internet.

She believes that easy access to information has dulled students’ sense of curiosity and is stifling debate. She claims that many undergraduates arrive at university unable to discriminate between anecdotal and unsubstantiated material posted on the internet.

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.

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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

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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.

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, "<a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2007/lessing-lecture_en.html">On not winning the Nobel Prize</a>" - . It's really an extraordinary speech, one that deserves to be heard by librarians everywhere. <blockquote>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.

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.

FreeRice - Boost Your Vocabulary and Feed Hungry People

The website FreeRice (http://www.freerice.com) has two purposes. First, they want to help people improve their English vocabulary. The site gives you a word and four possible synonyms. Get it right, and you advance to a higher level with tougher words.

At the same time, advertisers who appear at the bottom of the screen donate 10 grains of rice per correct word to the World Food Programme, which in turn sends it to countries in need around the world.

As of now, FreeRice has paid for just under 4 billion grains of rice, hovering at around 200 million grains per day. Not bad considering it launched on October 7 with 830 grains!

A Good Mystery: Why We Read

The New York Times asks the question why we read. PERHAPS the most fantastical story of the year was not “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” but “The Uncommon Reader,” a novella by Alan Bennett that imagines the queen of England suddenly becoming a voracious reader late in life.

At a time when books appear to be waging a Sisyphean battle against the forces of MySpace, YouTube and “American Idol,” the notion that someone could move so quickly from literary indifference to devouring passion seems, sadly, far-fetched.

Review readers comments or add your own.

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Harry Potter the most re-read book in the UK

Nearly 80 percent of Britons have re-read a book, with the Harry Potter series the most likely to be picked up again, a survey revealed on Friday. Some of the books that are re-read for pleasure are classics such as Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre".

A Different Approach to Teaching Information Literacy

This article suggests a new approach to teaching information literacy: creating “a framework that focuses on higher education’s need to prepare students to be content creators within their disciplinary or professional specialties. Delineating the skills that students need in order to create content within the disciplinary context could be a more meaningful way of encouraging the integration of a wide variety of skills into the curriculum. Although information professionals may be able to neatly compartmentalize various literacies [e.g., media, technical, information], these divisions are beside the point for student content creators.”

Why Johnny, or in this case Mr. Johnny, Can't Read

Ever heard of Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (also known as Irlen Syndrome)? It is not a vision problem, but a problem caused by the brain incorrectly processing what the eye is seeing. People with SSS are highly sensitive to particular wavelengths of light which causes them to see print in a distorted fashion. For some, words seem to swim across the page. For others, they swirl in a circular motion. Others have what is called the “rivers” effect, where the words on the printed page run together. Standard vision exams and educational assessments do not detect this condition.

Though he never learned to read as a child, Del Kennedy somehow managed to get through high school and into adulthood. Now in his late 50's, Kennedy has conquered this form of dyslexia partly with the help of the Muskogee (OK) Public Library’s Adult Literacy Services, and will speak about his voyage at a meeting at the library later this week. Report from the Muskogee Phoenix.

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Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Gives Poor Families Books

As reported in The Economist, the President of Chile, a medical doctor and breath of fresh air after the cruel rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, has instituted a project to give a box of nine books to over 400,000 impoverished families. Her choices, among others, are Kafka's "Metamorphosis" and Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye".

In today's The Lede (blog) from the New York Times...If You Had to Pick Nine Books...you are welcome to view other reader's opinions, and offer your own choices if you so desire. What would you choose?

Who says teens don't read?

A Disturbing New Trend! Despite the Internet, video games and technological pastimes, teens are still reading. In fact, from 1999 to 2005, teen book sales increased 23 percent, said Albert Greco, a Fordham University marketing professor and publishing expert.

The average Barnes & Noble Booksellers, he said, has 74 shelves dedicated to young adult literature. Religion, meanwhile, averages 110 shelves.

"It's growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future," he said.

Boys & Books...Making It Work

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer, an analysis of issues affecting how much, or how little boys read.

There is plenty of blame to go around -- disengaged parents, uninterested publishing houses, distracting video games and teaching styles -- but not as many clear answers.

"I would say there is a crisis," said Walter Dean Myers, a children's book author. "Too many parents have walked away from this idea ... that education is a family concept, is a community concept, is not simply something that schools do."

"A lot of times, when boys get to middle school they are feeling sort of disenfranchised from the educational" experience, said Pamela LaBorde, children's librarian at the Seattle Public Library's Ballard branch.

The problem isn't necessarily that boys don't read, it's that they are often practical readers, LaBorde said, reading magazines and even manuals.

"I think we feel like boys just aren't good readers because they aren't curling up with 'Little Women,' " LaBorde added.

Dr. Librarian: Physician adds literacy to health care mix

Pediatric resident Dipesh Navsaria has a novel way of measuring his young patients' development during checkups: He puts a book in their hands and watches their reaction.

Navsaria, a resident at American Family Children's Hospital, says the child's response speaks volumes. If the patient shows interest and curiosity, he can tell if books are a natural part of their life. At a certain age, if the child holds the book right-side up, opens it and turns the pages, the doctor gets a quick read on motor skills.

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