Travel advice for critical readers 6/30/2017

So, where to go to find books for critical reading if not traveling or wanting to use a device for reading? Two recent articles from the New York Times provide some wonderful starting points, depending on where in the world you happen to be going. Ann Patchett’s choices appeared in this article:

And if your adventures include Italy, David Laskin discusses libraries to die for:

Good reading while traveling is always a good thing!

News items of interest on reading

There is a new book out by Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse called The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis and How to Build a Culture of Self-Reliance that might be worth a look. He’s got a section devoted to the importance of reading.

Also, in the June 18, 2017 Sunday Review section of the New York Times the Corner Office column by Adam Bryant presented an interview with Jay Walker, founder of Priceline and Upside. Among other interesting points, Walker offers advice to new college grads that includes continuous learning and MUCH more reading across fields and disciplines to add value to whatever jobs they might have. Here’s a link to this piece:

I always enjoy seeing stories in the media that support the need for more and better reading.

New items of interest

Two new items have appeared that may be of interest to readers…
On June 6, 2017, the PBS Newshour aired a segment on media literacy, featuring a legislator in Washington state who is trying to get legislation passed requiring all schools to teach media literacy. This goal is not explicitly about improving students’ reading, but to the extent that interaction with media usually entails reading, it IS about reading. So, hooray. Here’s a link to the segment, on the PBS website:

Thanks to fellow scholar Ellen Carillo, I have learned that James Paul Gee has published a new book that should be of interest to everyone:

Teaching, Learning, Literacy in Our High-Risk High-Tech World
A Framework for Becoming Human
From Teachers College Press, April 2017.

Both items definitely worth a look!

Why Critical Reading is Important

Here’s a link to a recent piece in the NY Times Sunday Review about reading. The article is an opinion piece by Pamela Paul, the current editor of the Times Book Review section. I think it offers some useful insights on critical reading and on ways to avoid the trap we all get into of reading or watching or following only material we agree with; Paul suggests reading opposing views to sharpen your critical faculties.

My new icon

I added an icon to my blog–it’s an image of the cover of my all-time favorite book, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. It’s beautifully written, and I have found something different in the story every time I’ve read it. And I have read it over and over since second grade. I’ve also listened to the audio version of the book, even though I practically have it memorized. It has everything: history, drama, romance, friendship, war. It seemed like a great icon for the site.

Adults and Reading

Margot Kinberg in Confessions of a Mystery Novelist recently posted a question about how we define what it means to be an adult. Increasingly, in fictional characters (she gives a number of examples from recent books) there are behavior patterns that suggest young people who nominally should be adults but don’t act that way, or characters who are too young by the numbers to be adults, but take on adult responsibilities anyway. This question is apparently also addressed in a new book by Ben Sasse (junior Republican senator from Nebraska). There’s a chapter or section devoted to the importance of reading in what makes a person an “adult.” I haven’t read the book, but it is certainly on my list. He discussed the book recently on the NPR show Marketplace. Interested readers might want to have a look, too.

Welcome new readers

I hope the readers of this blog are all people who are concerned about the need for more widespread critical literacy in the population at large, including students of all ages and adults of all ages. As a population, we need to be reading more and more carefully than we do now. This blog addresses this core issue from a variety of perspectives. For example, as this post is being written, there was a recent column in the Sunday Business section of the New York Times (May 7, 2017, p. 2 of the printed paper) by Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He writes about the importance of reading when he was growing up and how reading helped him develop key skills to be an effective citizen and an effective leader. See

Blogging 101

I’ve decided to create this blog as a way to share my ideas about critical reading, a very important topic in contemporary times.  I see this blog as a kind of teaching tool, where I can present ideas about adults’ and young people’s critical reading and consider the issues and problems related to critical reading in education and other settings.  I hope to share materials that I find online and in traditional print sources, as well as the results of my own research.  I am currently studying the period 1880-1930 to see what lessons from this intellectually rich time period can be of use to educators and others concerned about literacy now.  My research will grow up to be a book, called Literacy Then and Now.

I am Professor Emerita in the Department of Writing & Rhetoric at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where I also held a joint appointment in the Department of Linguistics.  My work has appeared in various edited collections, the major journals in Writing Studies and in other books.  Check the “About” section for a current CV.

Welcome to Critical Reading in Digital Times

Thanks for looking in at my site.  I hope to use this space to post and discuss ideas about critical reading and digital literacy in contemporary times.  My posts will include everything from ideas arising from my current research project to articles and information from trustworthy sources, to discussions I hope you will join.  Please respond to let me know you have been here!  Thanks!