Old and new insights on reading

A new book on reading was mentioned in my usual source, the New York Times. In the Sunday Review section on Nov. 26, 2017 (p. 6) there was a piece by University of Virginia psychologist Daniel Willingham. He’s the author of a new book called The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads (Jossey-Bass, 2017). He discusses three points of interest to readers of this blog in this short piece, but covers them in more detail in his book, so that’s worth a look: 1)since reading comprehension hinges more on knowledge than skill, youngsters should spend more time on substance than on developing reading skills; 2)testing is skewed to kids who are better off because they have more opportunities to pick up a wide range of knowledge and experience outside the classroom; 3)the Common Core stresses reading skills when the evidence suggests that prior knowledge is what really matters. These points bring to mind for me a famous article from the 1960s called “Reading Is Only Incidentally Visual” by psychologist Paul Kolers. Here’s the citation for that one, worth a look: (1969). Reading is only incidentally visual. Psycholinguistics and the teaching of reading. Newark, Del.: International Reading Association, 8, 16.

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Important new books on reading

There are two important books on reading published in 2017 that warrant attention from readers of this blog. The first of these is Mark Seidenberg’s Language at the Speed of Sight: How we read, why so many can’t, and what can be done about it (New York: Basic Books, 2017). Here’s a review from someone at the Fordham Institute (a Conservative think tank on education):
http://educationnext.org/reading-and-wronging-review-language-at-the-speed-of-sight-mark-seidenberg-reading-science/
This review appeared on the Education Next website.
A second review appeared in the New York Times:

This review is by David Kipen, the former head of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Both reviews are very positive, and these are supported by the fact that Seidenberg holds a named professorship in cognitive psychology at the University of Wisconsin.
A second new book is called The Reading Mind by University of Virginia professor Daniel Willingham.
A favorable but not strongly substantive review appears on this website:
http://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/10/smart-review-the-reading-mind/
I think this one has not been out long enough to get substantive reviews in academic venues.
Seidenberg has definitely got my attention, particularly since he pokes some holes in the work of two reading theorists whose work I have respected for many years, Canadian psycholinguist Frank Smith (author of Understanding Reading which went through 6 editions), and University of Arizona reading expert Kenneth Goodman whose work, published in many academic journals, is summarized in On Reading (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996). I have some doubts about Seidenberg’s assertion that there is no research to back up the claims of these scholars, since Goodman offers many case studies of oral reading deviations (aka miscues) that reflect readers’ strategies for text comprehension. Smith relies on psycholinguistic research done by others, cited extensively in UR.
Both of these new books present summaries of the latest findings from psychological, neurological and other kinds of research and offer proposals for how to be sure young people develop the critical literacy skills essential to success in both online and offline environments. Have a look and post comments on this blog if you like.

New article on college reading

Here’s a link to another piece from the New York Times about reading, from the September 10, 2017 issue of the paper.
In this piece, Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw talks about assignments he gives in his first year economics seminar, requiring students to read classic books in economics and discuss them. Students in the class have been chosen to create a group that is diverse on gender, political perspective and various other factors. It makes for very interesting reading! Enjoy!

End of summer update

Here’s a new post…I’ve been on a bit of a summer hiatus with trips and golf and bike rides and whatnot…But over the past months, a few items have appeared that may be of interest to readers of this blog.
Here’s a story that appeared July 9, 2017 in the Detroit Free Press about Little Free Libraries.
Check it out–you may have one near you!
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/wisconsin/2017/07/09/am-american-wisconsins-todd-bol-started-little-free-library-revolution/97593128/

From the NY Times on July 2, 2017, a story about what students are being asked to read on college campuses:

And, a cartoon about critical reading and thinking, which appeared in the Detroit Free Press (my hometown newspaper, which I still read on paper, 7 days a week). This “Pearls Before Swine” strip was published on June 25, 2017.
Enjoy! http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2017/06/25

Now more than ever, we need critical thinking and critical reading!

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:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media-literacy-can-help-students-discern-fake-news/

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.
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/04/15/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-hate-reading.html