Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
By Jan W
I recently read STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS! , Vintage Press 2011. It is a collection of essays written by people who are passionate advocates for reading.
I was particularly taken with the final essay, by Dr Maryanne Wolf and Dr Mirit Barzillai. Dr Wolf is the Director of the Centre for Reading and Language research at Tufts University. Dr Barzillai is a researcher whose current work focuses on the implications of technological innovation on reading processes.
Their essay “Questions for a Reader” talks about how ‘momentous and semi-miraculous’ it is that the human species ever achieved the ability to read. It then discusses the fact that an ‘expert reading brain’ is developed over time. This process can be short-circuited at any point by poor instruction, impoverished environments, lack of opportunity or motivation. The essay also discusses the ‘plasticity’ of the human brain, enabling the ‘reading brain’ to adapt itself to whatever is required by the reader.
They go on to share their thoughts and concerns about the current transition from printed to digital text and the possible effects of this change in terms of our traditional definition of an ‘expert reader’ – one who thinks, infers, imagines, connects, reflects and gains insights into their life and the lives of others.
As today’s children are increasingly immersed in digitally dominated formats for reading, the authors pose these questions:
Huge questions, with real resonance in terms of literacy teaching and learning in the 21st century. What do you think? Share your thoughts with us.
STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS!can be readily borrowed through interlibrary loan if it is not available from your local library.
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