Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading
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Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading
An Educator's Reading List of Contemporary Literature, Literacy, and Reading Issues. Visit us at
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13 Literary and Book Related Prints and Posters

13 Literary and Book Related Prints and Posters | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Bookish, Literary, and Book Related Prints and Posters for decoration your house, office, library, and walls.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

25 January 2015


I enjoy discovering the sites that provide unique ways to promote a love of reading publicly, whether it is on the walls of a classroom, a library, a young person's bedroom, a family's home, in our wardrobe...anywhere we can proclaim a love of reading publicly.


There are many pro-reading posters in this collection however, I must admit that the one featured above spoke to me in ways that the others only did at lesser levels.


Unlike others that felt a bit too much like adults trying to tell kids what to think is cool, this one "tells a story" that reminds this viewer, at least, that THESE are the REAL REASONS why reading is a good thing.


It reminds us that reading is about being an enjoyable way to engage in the discovery of ideas worth thinking about; thinking about what it means to be a caring or uncaring person. Reading provides an enjoyable way of expanding our receptiveness to revisiting our current understandings of what it means to be a humane being. 


In some way, the poster captures for me the magic of the overlapping space in the Venn Diagram of Plot and Theme; that sweet spot where the focus on both is perfect for effective teaching of reading and literature. 


I've seen teachers who make faces that silently convey the same repulsion that people's faces make when they have smelled something terrible nearby, when they are actually unhappy with a student's excessive interest in books that appear to be heavy on plot but vapid in theme.


And, I've seen students who make the same faces when they feel that a teacher is way too focused on "ruining the story" with excessive analysis of structure and theme in books that have plots for which the student has not yet discovered any way to find any interest at all.


In the poster above, we see engaged readers. Period. We are not told by what means these particular readers became engaged readers. It may well be because they have been fortunate to have had parents, teachers, librarians, and/or friends who planted and cultivated the seeds of life-long reading spectacularly. But, the poster's first impression for me is its focus on the rewards of engaged reading.


We don't know if the comments were stimulated by an unexpected plot turn or by the contemplation of the motives behind that plot turn. What we do know is there are actively engaged minds in every one the the readers. And that's a good thing.


So... let me engage in a bit of excessive thematic and structural analysis.


NOTE: Each poster is linked to a web site where the poster is for sale. I mention this not to encourage you to consider purchasing one of the posters, but rather to point out that you will there be able to see a larger version of the poster. In fact, when you get there, click again on the poster for an even larger view.




"What!": I love the punctuation. A question mark might suggest confusion and a lack of understanding of what just happened while the exclamation mark suggests to me that the reader is fully aware of what just happened and is having both an emotional and intellectual moment of contemplative outrage at what just happened.


"Hmm...": Another punctuation observation. I love the ellipsis. "Hmmm" is often used to suggest something like, "Hmm, I just want you to know that I heard you, but do not wish to encourage you to think that I agree with you." Or, it is often used to suggest something like, "Hmm, I hadn't thought about it that way before. I'll have to give that some thought." It is the ellipsis that encourages me to wonder what that readers' take on the particular scene actually was. 


"Oh!": I've read so much about the exclamation point being considered by so many to be a crutch for weak writers. The advice against using the exclamation mark generally runs along the lines of suggesting that if a writer has to tell the reader to find the writing shocking then the writing itself is weak. There are occasions where I find this advise true and there are occasions when I find this advise well-intended, but over-reaching and stifling to learners. In this case, remembering that the engagement between individual readers and individual stories is very personal, some readers might be shocked by a particular passage while others might said, "Of course. Who didn't see that coming?" The exclamation point in this poster tells me that this is a reader in the midst of total personal immersion and that she has come across something startling TO HER. These are the moments in any story where we are emotionally and/or intellectually startled by the unexpected. And, the unexpected is frequently the point at which our contemplation of the underlying themes might be "peeking" out between the lines.



Body Language: There may be a parent, teacher, librarian or friend nearby, but if so they have been cropped out of the poster. The focus is on the reader's engagement and we know these readers somehow managed to reach the age they have reached and have not, as too many of our students have, abandoned a personal interest in reading.


The reader in the upper left corner is reading in the "default preferred" mode. She is sitting up straight and appears to be engaged and "properly attentive." Fine. If that is a way to read and discover the wonders of reading for her. Great. And, by the way, it may be important to note that she may not be simply representing the "traditional" posture of expected reading body language. She also appears to be representing the faction of readers who are perfectly okay with reading on digital devices.


The reader in the upper right corner who may be sitting on the floor, or in a bed, or near a campfire, or....., is obviously engaged. I don't know what she is reading, or why she is reading, but I do know she's intensely engaged.The subtlety of her leaning forward and of her fingers to her lips are indications of a sincere engaged attentiveness. 


Several of the readers are in positions not universally recognized as being beneficial to attentive reading. Yet each seems to give "some" clear visual indications of being attentively engaged.


The standing reader is reading a newspaper. Why is she standing? Maybe she's on the subway, waiting for a bus, or a table at a table with a line out the door. Who knows, but if so, she's choosing to use that time to read.  


The reader in the lower right corner is listening to her iPhone. I remember when the default expectation was to not be listening to music while I was reading. Though I always liked reading, I remember an entire collections of surreptitious (read serious guilt causing) ways I'd discovered to disguise the fact that I had music playing while I did my reading homework. 


It wasn't until I was in college that I discovered that I had been essentially using music as a sort of white noise, drowning out the conversations leaking into my reading space from other rooms, or the sounds of kids who were still outside playing loudly, or the burping refrigerator noises, and TV sounds distracting me while I tried to concentrate on doing my homework reading. I did come to understand that music without lyrics made for more effective white noise isolation than music with lyrics. By the way, did you notice that the girl with the earbuds happens to be reading sheet music? Now that just might be a deeper engagement in reading if you ask me.


BUT what about the reader who is smoking? I'm kind of hoping her "OH!" exclamation is indicating that she's reading an article about the the dangers of smoking that was somehow able to cut past her inherent resistance to being receptive to revisiting her primary focus upon a perception that smoking is a sign of being cool.


Who knows?


But one thing is for sure, the poster has done a great job of engaging my interest in keeping an open mind about effective reading and literary analysis education.


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Stop Apologizing for What You Like to Read

Stop Apologizing for What You Like to Read | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

"And I'm Canadian, so I know a thing or two about insincerely apologizing for stuff."

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

I loved junk reading before I loved the classics. In those days, I did have teachers who made me feel as though I should be embarrassed by my "less sophisticated" reading tastes.


But, another one of my immature practices for which, I suppose I do still feel a bit of remorse, was that I was generally more willing to dismiss the advise of "old people" without devoting much attention to considering the "criticism."


It rarely ocurred to me that the "criticism," though sounding like condemnation, was certainly for the most part "well-intended urging." 


Engaged reading of the respected canon is not so much of a decision as it is a point in the trajectory of one's developing interest in life-long reading. 


As educators hoping to encourage our students to maintain a reading preference trajectory that reaches an interest in life-long reading that includes the greatest literatures, we might do well to craft our that encouragement to read "better" stories in ways that encourage a rising reading trajectory without inadvertently discouraging existing, and thereby potential future engagement with reading for the love of reading, by keeping in mind that we have many reasons for teaching literary reading besides the creation of the next generation of English majors. 



Though this article might be quite useful as a gentle nudge for discussing one of the elephants in the department meeting agendas, the use of a single word, "douchebag" might of course, make it inappropriate for a classroom reading.




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