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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On The Timelessness Of 'The Grapes Of Wrath'

On The Timelessness Of 'The Grapes Of Wrath' | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
The following is an excerpt from On Reading The Grapes of Wrath [Penguin Books, $14.00] by Susan Shillinglaw.

Deliberate reading is as cleansing as deliberate movement. To enter a yoga studio is to cross a boundary into a place of serenity. To op...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

16 April 2014


My first thought in reading the title of this article was "What happens when we don't have time to read the timeless in times when time is money?"


We certainly do live in fast times don't we? But, are we making a terrible mistake by assuming that "faster is better"? Are we sacrificing an element of a TRULY great education if we assume that the only criteria for such an education are college and career readiness? Though I do not criticize the true value of college and career readiness, if we simplistically allow those criteria to dominate curricular planning and if we allow, oh, I dunno, say literary reading to be demoted as either being too impossible to measure beyond the elements of advanced literacy and vocabulary skills then what happens to a deep focus upon the timelessness of literary wisdom?


AND BEFORE you jump on me for suggesting that literary reading has been demoted, let me  say that I do understand that a close reading of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts implies that literary reading has NOT  been demoted since the expectations are to be spread across the curriculum. This clarification  suggests that the amount of literary reading in English Literature classes will essentially be unchanged given the amount of informational reading expected in non ELA courses. I know that. But, I also know that de facto forces place incredible pressure on course syllabi to focus on the "power standards;" those standards most tested and those having the greatest impact upon a school's overall scores.


So, timeless articulations of wisdom, those that take time, that could be "better spent" on score boosting "learning" experiences, will inevitably get the squeeze. My guess is long reads and slow reads  may  give way to shorter and faster reads in order to get as many literary titles into play as possible. 


This article, one of many dozens of articles I've read on Steinbeck's THE GRAPES OF WRATH, stands among the most interesting in it's focus upon the need to slow down in order to  truly connect and develop an appreciation for the circumstances the Joads and so in which so many others find themselves.


Susan Shillinglaw builds an exquisite case for the inner chapters with particular emphasis upon the inner chapter about the slow yet determined turtle caught up in a fast world of Lincoln Zephyrs flying by completely oblivious to the turtle's situation. Of course it's a metaphor for the "forces of progress" whizzing by the displaced victims of progress. Empathy and compassion for the downtrodden? No time to care about that. 


Faster does not make for better reading. Nor does it always make for better living. 


So, you're probably an English teacher. You probably get my point and will enjoy Shillinglaw's  appreciation for THE GRAPES OF WRATH. But, I've saved something for last that might be a great lesson for your "irony" collection.


Have you seen those commercials for AT&T promoting "faster is better?"


I'd only seen one, but in hoping to find a link to the commercial, I was surprised to discover one I hadn't seen before.  It's the one about turtles!


Check it out here: 



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brought to you by GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit promoting the wisdom of reading great literature

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15 Great Douglas Adams Quotes

15 Great Douglas Adams Quotes | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
The late, great Douglas Adams would have been 62 today - not that we need an excuse to remind ourselves of his wit and wisdom.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

15 March 2014


I don't recall which author it was, but I remember one of the very earliest disappointments I had in relationship to existing assessment structures for Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts came as a result of reading a sample question based upon an example of literary reading that was not literary reading at all. It was a excerpt from a piece of writing that was a moderately eloquent biography of a literary author.


"Reading biographies, even moderately eloquent biographies, is informational reading isn't it?" I wondered; annoyed at the pretense that existing capabilities of assessing literary reading is even doable within an acceptable margin of error. Aggravated that informational reading was being passed off as literary reading and that the best the developers of assessment tools could do is a masked attempt to measure advanced literacy skills. 


Though I actually am a proponent of assessment as a means of holding students AND educators accountable, I can't help but find what I have seen specifically in regards to literary reading, to be efforts standing upon wobbly legs at best. I still wonder if the well-intended efforts to assess literary reading by assessing literacy skills rather than measuring the value-gain that literary appreciation can bring to one's life, most of which is probably much more significant in the narrower realm beyond college and career preparation, (as though authors actually write to those pragmatic goals) are responsible for unintended damage to literature as a palatable and inviting source of developing wisdom.


When I came across this article it reminded me that I used to raise conversations in my classes about the Venn diagram resulting from two words; "Facts" and "Truth." 


Somewhere along the line, I came to realize that when I was teaching essay writing (sometimes referred to as "Robot Writing" by college professors who often cringe at the Five-Paragraph Essay) that Facts are the trump card because Facts assure Truth. Yet, when teaching literature Truth trumps Facts. Think Grapes of Wrath for example. Think Candide for example. Think A Modest Proposal for example. Think Death of a Salesman for example.


It is the very "FACT" that "FICTION" isn't true that makes "FICTION a palatable mode of increasing reader receptiveness to the TRUTHS that FICTION brings "between its lines" to contemplative readers. And, I would be so presumptuous as to suggest that this is a "FACT."


So, when I came across this article, though I've only read a couple of Douglas Adams' books, that my crazy mind thought that it might prove quite a valuable learning experience in, not literary reading but informational reading.


What might happen is students were asked to read the preface and 15 featured quotes from Adams' work as an exercise in Informational reading?


After all, if biographies can be considered Literary Reading, why can't fiction be considered Informational Reading? 


My thought is this. What if students were asked to read the 15 quotes in pairs or groups of no more than three and asked to discuss whether the quotes were "Facts" or "Truths"?


What do you think? A few examples with which one might practice...



"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."


(Any similarity to concerns about margin of error in existing literary reading assessment practice is purely unintentional)



"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."


(Reminds me of the counter-argument to the reason for studying history, "The only lesson we learn from history is that we don't learn from history." And, anyone who has studied history knows that the failure to have learned from history is a fairly common theme)



"A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.'"


There are others, some more easily dismissed as just not being true primarily because the truth being exposed is not 100% true 100% of the time. And, yet most can not be dismissed as Not True (double negative intended) because they are true to such a degree that they represent very true realities of significant and truly negative impact in the real world.


Once the small groups had come to some judgement about the factuality or truth of each statement, I might even extend the exercise to require the groups to attempt to articulate a considered concession to those who would have judged the quotes with the opposing conclusion.


And, perhaps I might even take the conversation to a consideration of when it might be extremely important to premise decisions upon fact and when it might be extremely important to premise decisions upon truth. 


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brought to you by GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit






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A Life Changing Trip by Hannah Ryder

A Life Changing Trip by Hannah Ryder | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's curator insight, April 9, 2014 5:57 PM

9 April 2014


If you like Google Lit Trips, you just might love GLT Personal Journeys!


Hannah Ryder shares her story of a life changing journey she made to Washington D.C. as one of her state's two chosen representatives to the 2009 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Children's Congress.




Google Lit Trips is now encouraging students to tell their own significant Personal Journey Stories. If you would like to have them considered for publication on the Google Lit Trips website ( contact us at: for more information.



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brought to you by GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit 

Teresa Pombo's curator insight, April 9, 2014 6:11 PM

Um exemplo em Português em