I saw an info-mercial plugging a new speed reading program. I know Mr. Dark is a speed reader and perhaps a few others here as well, but that's not really the point of this thread. The info-mercial featured a retired police officer who started an after school program based on their reading program. She said she got the idea when as an officer she would enter people's homes and always noticed how there weren't any books in the houses and how maybe the two were connected. Well, that got me thinking. The info-mercial also claimed that as the children's reading comprehension got better so did all their marks in every other subject. Anyways, wether any of it is true or not it still raises some pretty interesting points and I thought maybe it would make for a good discussion here.
Also...I heard on the radio last week a new report says 50% of the city of Los Angeles is illiterate. Ray Bradbury lives there. WOW! There's your Bradbury tie-in.
So, what do you see as being some of the benefits of reading?
I think all these people who drive like maniacs don't read enough. If they did, they'd probably be more patient. Reading teaches patience. That's what I'll go with.
Drive like a maniac. Hmm. I do that sometimes. And I read.
So if I lived in Los Angeles, how would that affect that final tally. Not much I suppose.
I have a neighbor across the street that never learned to read. But after talking with him over a period of a couple years, I have come to realize he is really a smart fellow . But as as smart as you can get without reading??
How smart is that?
Well, what levels of smartness are there? Social smartness. History smartness. Literacy smartness. World wise smartness. Spirtual smartness? Self smartness? Just being a smarty? Well, this list can go on for a long time.
If Bradbury never learned to read...!!
Well, there's an interesting question. What would Ray Bradbury be doing with his life if he never learned to read..... ?
Hmmm...So, you admit to driving like a maniac, do ya. Nard, I think you need to read more. If that doesn't work we'll setup an appointment for a 'reconditioning'.
[This message has been edited by grasstains (edited 09-21-2004).]
I've just made a video for a school which encourages parents to help their children to read. In scripting it, we chose to present reading as a key which unlocks a child's potential. On a purely pragmatic level, the only way that a student can learn anything in depth is by reading, so it's essential that reading is the one of the first things they should master.
Looking at Bradbury's views on education over the last forty-odd years, that's what he has been saying is the most vital thing.
Reading has to become invisible, so that you're not conscious of doing it. That means getting a fluency in it. From that, I think, can come the ability to speed read. I have noticed, however, that it is only possible to speed-read something that has been well written! Most of the speed-reading schemes I have read about exploit the fact that well-written prose is properly organised into paragraphs etc.
[This message has been edited by philnic (edited 09-21-2004).]
Don't try speed reading Dylan Thomas or Gerard Manly Hopkins!
On the topic, here's a good quote:
"...It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.
"Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books."
--C.S. Lewis, "On the Reading of Old Books"
For some reason, this topic really got me thinking. It's early AM CST here, and I hope my post-midnight-shift stream-of-consciousness thoughts make some sense.
A retired cop teaching reading: what a wonderful thing. Then I think, meth baby, a child born addicted. They cry, scream, for weeks after they're born. Will they be able to learn? What damage was done? No books in the home; probably no art either, just video games and domestic violence to imprint a young mind. Ah, what a cop sees can break the strongest of hearts.
Phonics--without it, what method does a child have to discover a new word?
My mother was a Master's English/Special Ed teacher; my sister started teaching HS English in '79 and moved to 3rd grade some ten years later--she reads Laura Ingalls Wilder to the kids, and lets them churn their own butter, eaten in class with crackers and smiles. Yet, class sizes have more than doubled since I was in grade school; the personal attention so needed at young ages is diminished. A still-noble profession is clogged with bureaucratic gunk, and learning often takes a back seat to liability.
What is reading? What dreams may come--what hopes are on the horizon. Reading is the foundation, the genesis, of understanding. It's the framework for effective communication. Fifty percent of the people in LA are illiterate? How can they achieve compromise, solve problems? Get along peacefully, and prosper?
Ray is so very right, that our kids must be taught to read, for without reading, how can our dreams ever become real?
Sorry if I got off on too much of a tangent. I'm too close to some of this. Soapbox adjourned.
First of all, speed reading Mr. Bradbury really would be a mistake. Over the years, I have probably read each story and novel twice at the same sitting. Even today with stories I have read dozens of times, I re-read, slowly at times to completely capture the images. Reason? There is so much in his style that needs to be digested, assimulated, felt, absorbed.
Agreed, Ravenswake, but....no soapbox!!
We take time to read to our two little guys "every" day. Both love books already (8,6). They read about and enjoy fantasy, reality, history, cowboys, animals, far off lands and people, space, oceans, cartoon characters, heroes, tragedy, God, saints, families, science, music....and, of course, Mr. B.
It started syllable by syllable on our laps. They have an appreciation for the written word. Sunday a.m. is for comics, sports, and current events and puzzles. TV in very small doses, some computer games -mostly educationally oriented and a few pure fun and games, and lots of outside activities - but reading is a staple in our home. With so many dysfunctional environments in today's society, reading is an easy area to completely forget about. It takes time. It takes personal contact. It takes a steadfast effort on those that are closest to young minds to help formulate the discipline to sit-listen-read-ask-wonder!
I am not a speed reader, but have a knack (through years of practice with a zillion essays graded) for scanning a magazine or newspaper in just a few minutes. I am able to gather the facts and make an analysis from what I have seen. I will then go back later to read an article or section of a periodical thoroughly when time allows. The key is to get inspired to follow up and get to the bottom of a topic. With the internet, it is much easier than ever before to be informed and to educate oneself on ANY topic.
That being said, there is nothing like sitting down (alone or with family) and reading a book just for the sake of the experience. It is somewhat spiritual, is it not?!
I can read pretty fast, but rarely do -- unless I'm buzzing through the paper or some magazine article.
I have found Thoreau to be right on this: That to read well requires the training of an athlete and that a book must be read as carefully and deliberately as it was written. There is much reading that doesn't require that depth of analysis, but then, why read that stuff?
I also see reading as THE key skill for persons who are growing up. If you can't read, your potential for learning is severely limited. This has nothing to do with being smart.
Thoreau also said that a mole burrows with his claws, but a person burrows with his mind/brain. The more knowledge we expose outselves to, the better off we are (of course, what kinds of knowledge comes into play, also.).
I don't read fast any more because while I know speed reading is a possibility, I do not believe in speed thinking. Reflection and analysis take time.
One of the best things my parents did for me was to model reading ALL THE TIME. Every room in our house had books in them. I have done the same thing. Books define the house. When I walk into a person's home, the first thing I want to do is find the bookshelves and see: (1) IF they read, and (2) WHAT they read.
I think another thing about reading -- from literature to religious texts to philosophy -- is that one can get totally immersed in them. It is a way of living larger than and outside oneself. It is also a way of living on many levels of experience.
Anyway, some quick, random thoughts.
The 50% illiteracy thing is probably(hopefully) mostly represented by people who can't read english, but perhaps can read their native language. If the poll was done solely with people who speak english it would suprise me and indeed be appalling.
I have books in every room also. After you mentioned it a couple years ago I finagled(charmed spouse) a bookshelf for the living room, which at the time had no books. Yes...We have books in the bathroom. I hope it's working. It seems to be working on my 9 year old, but 12 year old only seems to be interested in reading about sports figures and stats. I guess it's a start.
Great post. You always have something beautiful, thought provoking, compassionate and passionate to say. The soapbox is yours. Don't ever change.
grasstains, I'm indebted, you've made my day. Thank you for the kind words. Hope the fire aftermath is progressing, and the insurance types are treating you well. Also, enjoyed your mother's take on why bad things happen to good people--to teach us compassion. True wisdom there.
Mr. Dark, I loved the books in every room idea, which will be implemented immediately here. The more, the better.
fjpalumbo, we have three--14, 13, and 11. The oldest and youngest are "borderline" AD/HD. There are, and have been, many challenges, but reading time is family time. Sometimes, we play a game, "Once upon a time," and one of them will finish the sentence. If the answer is, "a giant frog," I'll continue with, "and he lived in a," and they'll complete that, and soon we have a story.
A lot of words, lifetimes, have been expended trying to determine the meaning of life. Yet, reading with the kids, that question's answered, at least for me. When they say dad, read another, yes, it's mystical, magical--spiritual.
I commuted with a neighbor for about 18 years - an hour there and about an hour and a half back.
What we did to "redeem the time" was read aloud; if I drove he would read, and if he drove I would read. We got through many great books that way and it made the trip quite pleasant. (I think we read the entire "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" 3 or 4 times!)
I also love books on tape - reading aloud for others is a career I envy.
Yes, reading books aloud can give a whole new quality to the reading experience - and besides, it's fun! My ex-girlfriend and me used to read aloud to each other, we did almost all Harry Potter books; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis; The Golden Pot by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and a couple of short stories, most of them by Kurt Kusenberg, a not so well-known German writer of weird tales.
I think Bradbury would be a pleasure to read aloud - there are many passages in his stories that simply SOUND beautiful!
[This message has been edited by Menes (edited 09-22-2004).]
ravenswake: Simply put - great, great, and great! I hope you did not construe my "no soapbox" as a criticism. On the contrary, I am of like mind and found your comments right on!!
Whenever we travel for more than a couple of hours, a book from the local library is selected for the long journey. It keeps the backseat fisticuffs to a minimum!!
I envy you folks who instilled the love of reading to your children. I tried for YEARS to get my son to read more, but to no avail. Nearly every movie he'd see, I'd say that I had the book, to which he'd reply, "You have the books to EVERY movie!" (Not quite true!) My reply would be that the book, in 99% of the cases, was vastly better than the movie and he should read the book if he liked the movie. *sigh* Not much time for him to read now, in any case, as he just graduated from Marine boot camp and is going to be kept rather busy (and I'm going to be a basketcase when he gets shipped out to be cannon fodder!).
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