Literacy

Literacy

Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy

THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

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Opinion piece in the NYT: What Should Children Read?

Opinion piece in the NYT: What Should Children Read?

Excerpt: For example, the Common Core dictates that by fourth grade, public school students devote half of their reading time in class to historical documents, scientific tracts, maps and other “informational texts” — like recipes and train schedules. Per the guidelines, 70 percent of the 12th grade curriculum will consist of nonfiction titles. Alarmed English teachers worry we’re about to toss Shakespeare so students can study, in the words of one former educator, “memos, technical manuals and menus.”

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Literature is not Data: Against Digital Humanities

BIG DATA IS COMING for your books. It’s already come for everything else. All human endeavor has by now generated its own monadic mass of data, and through these vast accumulations of ciphers the robots now endlessly scour for significance much the way cockroaches scour for nutrition in the enormous bat dung piles hiding in Bornean caves. The recent Automate This, a smart book with a stupid title, offers a fascinatingly general look at the new algorithmic culture: 60 percent of trades on the stock market today take place with virtually no human oversight. Artificial intelligence has already changed health care and pop music, baseball, electoral politics, and several aspects of the law. And now, as an afterthought to an afterthought, the algorithms have arrived at literature, like an army which, having conquered Italy, turns its attention to San Marino.

The story of how literature became data in the first place is a story of several, related intellectual failures.

Full article at Los Angeles Review of Books

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Drink a beer, open a book: The best bars for reading in New York

Now that fall is here, scant will be the days of reading on the lawn in Central Park or at an outdoor Brooklyn café.

And that, as far as we are concerned, is a good thing. There is no greater pleasure, after all, than pulling up to a bar with a book

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Your brain and reading

NPR piece about brain studies and reading. Deep reading engages more areas of the brain. See full piece here.

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Breaking Up the Echo

Information literacy

Opinion piece in the NYT that has elements on information literacy.

Excerpt: People assimilate new information in a selective fashion. When people get information that supports what they initially thought, they give it considerable weight. When they get information that undermines their initial beliefs, they tend to dismiss it.

Full piece here

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Students Say They've Been Denied The Right To Read

Eight Detroit-area public school students returning to classes this week are plaintiffs against a school system they say has failed them.

Their families and the American Civil Liberties Union say that the Highland Park school system has denied the students the right to learn to read, and that the state has a responsibility to fix that.

Michelle Johnson has five children in Highland Park schools. Her daughter is heading into the 12th grade, but can read at only about the fourth-grade level.

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Want to Be a Great Leader? Start Reading

The indispensible Lifehacker on one aspect of what makes a leader great.

"Note how many business titans are or have been avid readers. According to The New York Times, Steve Jobs had an "inexhaustible interest" in William Blake; Nike founder Phil Knight so reveres his library that in it you have to take off your shoes and bow; and Harman Industries founder Sidney Harman called poets "the original systems thinkers," quoting freely from Shakespeare and Tennyson. In Passion & Purpose, David Gergen notes that Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein reads dozens of books each week."

Some Books Are More Equal Than Others

For enlightening summer reading, students should read nonfiction.

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Surprising Tips That Help Kids Learn to Read

“Print knowledge” is an awareness of the mechanics of the reading process, like the fact that English is read from left to right and that written words map on to spoken ones. Adults often take this knowledge for granted, but research demonstrates that children benefit when these aspects of print are explicitly pointed out. In a study published in the May-June issue of the journal Child Development, for example, Ohio State professor Shayne Piasta and her coauthors report that when preschool teachers drew students’ attention to print while reading to them, the children’s skills in reading, spelling and comprehension improved. These positive results were long-lasting, too, still showing up a full two years later.

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Why does James Patterson care about our kids’ reading habits?

Why does James Patterson care about our kids’ reading habits?
At this point, rowdy adolescents clutch their free copies of Patterson’s young adult novel Maximum Ride and listen intently as he gives a prescription for success in writing, or, beyond that, life.

"You have to have a dream; you have to have passion. And I strongly recommend you have a back-up dream. You have to have focus. Outline, baby. Before you write anything, outline."

He tells them to write down the coolest story they know. The sentences might not be any good, but the important thing is to get the story down – polishing can come later.

At World Book Night, D.C. literacy advocates greeted with delight and skepticism

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By Lonnae O'Neal Parker and David Montgomery, Published: April 23. The Washington Post The odds of being handed a free book out of the blue were much higher Monday night than any other night of the year, thanks to the legions of volunteers and booksellers celebrating World Book Night.

Read So Hard Libraries Try To Find Me

From YouTube: [Thanks Anna!]

Teach the Books, Touch the Heart

Opinion piece in the NYT

FRANZ KAFKA wrote that “a book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us.” I once shared this quotation with a class of seventh graders, and it didn’t seem to require any explanation.

We’d just finished John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” When we read the end together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I. “Are you crying?” one girl asked, as she crept out of her chair to get a closer look. “I am,” I told her, “and the funny thing is I’ve read it many times.”

But they understood. When George shoots Lennie, the tragedy is that we realize it was always going to happen. In my 14 years of teaching in a New York City public middle school, I’ve taught kids with incarcerated parents, abusive parents, neglectful parents; kids who are parents themselves; kids who are homeless or who live in crowded apartments in violent neighborhoods; kids who grew up in developing countries. They understand, more than I ever will, the novel’s terrible logic — the giving way of dreams to fate.

Full essay

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How We Will Read: Clay Shirky

How We Will Read: Clay Shirky
“Social reading,” the way I’ve always interpreted the phrase, is reading that recognizes that you’re not just a consumer, you’re a user. You’re going to do something with this, and that something is going to involve a group of other people. Read a book. The very next thing you’re going to do, if it was at all interesting, is talk to someone about it. Book groups and discussion lists are social reading. Because so much of our media in the 20th century was delivered in real-time, with very little subsequent ability to share, save, shift, store, we separated the consumption from the reproduction and use of media. We don’t actually think of ourselves as users of media, when in fact we are.

Bringing Up an E-Reader

NYT article on kids and reading.

Excerpt: But is it better than a book? It may take a generation to ever know for sure, and even 10 or 20 years from now it will be debated as the effects of television or video games are still discussed today.

Julianna’s teacher, Kourtney Denning, sees e-books as essential. “Old books don’t really cut it anymore,” she said. “We have to transform our learning as we know it.”

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Story time to go: Libraries try to reach kids who aren’t being read to at home

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“Early literacy has gotten increasing attention, which is really important because it points out the role public libraries play in helping children get ready for success in school,” said Mary Fellows, president of the Association of Library Service to Children.

Putin’s List

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In January, during the run-up to Russia’s March 4 election, the front-runner, Vladimir Putin, proposed “a canon of 100 Russian books that every school leaver will be required to read at home . . . and then write an essay about one of them.” Reading, according to Putin, is not just an elective individual activity, but one that has decisive implications for the nation. “State policy with regard to culture must provide appropriate guidelines,” he wrote in an essay in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, and culture shapes “public consciousness and . . .

Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills

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Reading nonfiction writing is the key component of the Core Knowledge curriculum, which is based on the theory that children raised reading storybooks will lack the necessary background and vocabulary to understand history and science texts. While the curriculum allows children to read fiction, it also calls on them to knowledgeably discuss weather patterns, the solar system, and how ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia compare.

Pass the Books. Hold the Oil.

Tom Friedman has a piece on the importance of education and books: Pass the Books. Hold the Oil.

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