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 https://www.GoogleLitTrips.org
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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 | Scoop.it
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.

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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.

_____

 

RE: THE TEXT

"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.

 

RE: THE IMAGERY...

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.

JUST SOME ELEMENTS THAT I FOUND WORTH CONTEMPLATING

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.

 

 ~ www.GoogleLitTrips.org ~

brought to you by GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit

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Sleek Sculpture Combines Metal With Pressed Book Pages

Sleek Sculpture Combines Metal With Pressed Book Pages | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading | Scoop.it
Andrew Hayes combines his passion for metal work with a musty lust for pulp-- book pages chopped, twisted, bent, and pressed in bulk.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Just something incredibly captivating about these. Almost Zen-like contemplations.

 

 ~ http://www.GoogleLitTrips.com ~

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Mother’s Day gift ideas for literature’s best and worst moms

Mother’s Day gift ideas for literature’s best and worst moms | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading | Scoop.it

"...(literature) ... is liberally strewn with mothers, from the sea nymph Thetis in the Iliad, who likes to follow her son Achilles to work and suggest better approaches (“Stop trying to give me new armor, Mom! This armor is FINE! Okay?”) and Odysseus’s old mother Anticlea, whom he runs into the instant he arrives at the Underworld. (Q: How did Odysseus know he was in Hell? A: He saw his mother.) There’s Grendel’s mother in “Beowulf,” who goes charging out of the swamp to set straight the people who have been mean to her son after he charged into their mead hall wanting to play. Moving forward in literature, there are plenty of mothers in Shakespeare. The closer to the present you get, the easier they become to shop for.

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Yes there are certainly many moms in the canon. This charming article ventures to suggest possible Mother's Day gifts for the best and the worst of them.

 

Just as interesting is the opening several paragraphs where the author contemplates what she might give her own mother by listing what might be considered appropriate at different age levels. 

 

I couldn't help but wonder what teachers of students of the various age categories listed think of her appraisal of appropriateness for that group with which they work every day.

 

 

 ~ http://www.GoogleLitTrips.com ~

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How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension? | DMLcentral

How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension? | DMLcentral | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading | Scoop.it
Although electronic texts have been with us for many decades, in the past few years electronic reading has become increasingly popular.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

An interesting take on the paper vs. digital reading conversation. John Jones author of this article references a Scientific American article by Ferris Jabr who argues that there are four distinct advantages that prove paper reading is superior to digital reading.

 

Followers of this Scoop-it blog, know that I've long emphasized that it is the text not the means of accessing the text that should be at the center of that particular discussion regarding literary reading. And, that educators who voice their own preferences for one over the other may be inadvertently alienating student readers who have established preferences for "the other" means of accessing literary reading text.

 

There being a long list of perceived advantages and disadvantages for both paper and digital reading, my question has always been, "Which is the most welcome format for the student REGARDLESS of my own particular preference? And by the way, though I do lean a bit towards preferring  digital over paper, particularly when I am reading with an academic intention, I feel equally at home with paper-based literary reading. 

 

So, when I began reading this article and discovered that it referenced an article from a respectable periodical and that that article took a very clear stand in favor of paper, I was quite interested in the possibility of discovering previously unconsidered advantages of paper-based reading. And, with that in mind, rather than assume that I might let my slight preference for digital reading bias my receptiveness to solid evidence that ought to be conceded to paper, I actually began to wonder about the possibility that IF there is merit in the argument for paper and against digital reading, that this might be more significant than my "let them access the text in their preferred media and concentrate on the text" stance.

 

Why? Because whether students prefer one or the other, the assessment structures for the English Language Arts Common Core Standards specifically require digital reading.

 

Could this requirement to take the assessment testing via computer which is not the same experience  to those who prefer paper's  advantages and who are more bothered by their perceived disadvantages of digital reading, cause an unrecognized significant increase in the test's margin of error considerations?

 

And, ironically, after having spent some time exploring the Smarter Balance" practice tests, I became quite concerned that the reading experience presented by Smarter Balance was significantly unlike the digital reading experience that I've come to appreciate a bit more than the paper reading experience. 

 

The "Smarter Balance" reading paridigm includes none of the advantages and many incredibly, ... well, I'll just say it, many really irritating disadvantages for attentive reading.

 

It is a reading experience that isn't an authentic representation of any reading experience at all. Nor does it employ technology in a way that reflects the best features of digital reading, those being features that streamline attentiveness via immediate definition access, those that integrate highlighting and note taking seamlessly, and those that make reviewing notes and highlights instantly accessible whether one is accessing them while reading or after reading while studying for an exam or reviewing the entirety of the story while constructing knowledge via project-based building, essay writing, and other demonstrations of understanding.

 

Jones' critque of Jabr's "conclusions" rest upon pointing out the narrowness of Jabr's scope of consideration. Admittedly I was pleased therefore to see that Jabr's blanket conclusions were being challenged and that Jones' critique was based upon legitimate questions of Jabr's analysis.

 

Yet, at the same time, I could not help but wonder if students who prefer paper-based reading and who have then not exerted the effort to go through the process of developing a comfort level sufficient to getting past the universal "temporary fall back" that occurs when the comfortable old modes of operation are replaced with the uncomfortableness of the new mode's "different way of doing things." 

 

This is not a new phenomenon.  It's called the "S-curve" effect. Productivity declines temporarily when one has to learn a new way of doing something that is replacing what appears to be a perfectily satisfactory way one had always done that task. 

 

We may not recall Mark Twain's turnaround regarding the invention of the typewriter. By the way, it is interesting to note that Mark Twain happened to have been quite intrigued with "new" technologies having been the first person to have a telephone in a personal residence and the first person to submit a typewritten manuscript to his publisher and who happened to go bankrupt investing in what he'd hope would be a revolution in printing industry technology.

 

Nevertheless, his early adoption was fraught with irritation at the typewriter's initial setback in his comfort, efficiency, and productivity.

 

As he put it,...

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"The machine is at Bliss's, grimly pursuing its appointed mission, slowly & implacably rotting away at another man's chances for salvation.

 

I have sent Bliss word not to donate it to a charity (though it is a pity to fool away a chance to do a charity an ill turn), but to let me know when he has got his dose, because I've got another candidate for damnation. You just wait a couple of weeks & if you don't see the TypeWriter coming tilting along toward Cambridge with the raging hell of an unsatisfied appetite in its eye, I lose my guess."

- Letter to William Dean Howells, 25 June 1875

_______________

 

 Yet in the spirit of a true pioneer, undeterred by the inconvenience caused by the inevitable setback to his productivity and efficiency  caused by having to master a completely new skill set for writing, he did recognize  the typewriter's significant POTENTIAL advantages over handwriting early on when he had not yet mastered the typewriter. 

 

He demonstrated the kind of openess to the "new fangled" ideas that we might well hope our students adopt in the rapidly changing times they must be prepared for and the kind of openess to the "new fangled" ideas that we as educators ought to be receptive to in spite of their required discomforting "learning curves," when he wrote... 

______________

I am trying to get the hang of this new fangled writing machine, but I am not making a shining success of it. However, this is the first attempt I have ever made & yet I perceive I shall soon & easily acquire a fine facility in its use...The machine has several virtues. I believe it will print faster than I can write. One may lean back in his chair & work it. It piles an awful stack of words on one page. Id don't muss things or scatter ink blots around. Of course it saves paper.

____________

 

Of course, he did master the new fangled technology. He far surpassed his initial concept of the value-add that typewriters would bring to his writing once he made the transition. And, from that vantage point he was able to look back at pen and paper and see that in the long run the potential of pen and paper was far more limited than the new possibilities brought about via his surviving the transition to the typewriter.

 

In a later letter to Howells, his enthusiasm for typewriters was, ah, let's say great. He wrote, ...

 

_______________

...[children] what are they in the world for I don't know, for they are of no practical value as far as I can see. If I could beget a typewriter--- but no, our fertile days are over."

_______________

 

Now that's enthusiasm after an initial expression of serious dislike for typewriters. 

 

Though forever condemned by an overly simplistic understanding of their motives, the Luddites are often cited as the poster-persons for resistance to technology. In truth, their concern was about their concerns regarding the impact on unions and laborers brought about by more efficient productivity that technology might bring. There's room for empathy there.I would suggest that there are in fact many people today who understand the Luddites concern. It was not that the technology wasn't more efficient in time and cost, but that many people today are finding their skill sets just no longer viable in a world that changes so quickly. 

 

It's not unusual. Remember the discomfort expressed by many when word processors didn't make clicking sounds when the keys were hit?

 

Remember the discomfort when Apple stopped putting modems in their computers?

 

Inconvenience, some worthy of sympathy and some merely signaling a resistance to having to learn something new, often comes before the increased value-add made possible by change.

 

And, as long as this particular commentary has been, my point has been not to focus upon the legitmacy of the arguments made by Jabr in his assertion that paper beats rock,  ...oops, ....I mean paper beats digital.

 

My point was, without assuming that one is better than the other, what if there IS an important difference between the two modes of reading that is particularly prevalent during times when disruptive paradigm shifts are making radical changes in the way we do things? And, if there is, might those differences extend the margin of error in the  standardized testing results into the unacceptable range given the transition in place between the traditional paper-based skill set and the extremely varying degrees of achieving a level of comfort with the very different skill set of reading as a digital process?

 

I really hadn't thought about this in spite of the fact that I'm old enough to remember how microwaves were welcomed and unwelcome during the early days of microwave ovens and the discomfort and advantages of VCRs when they were new and with DVR when it disrupted VCRs, all of which brought new options to the exisiting modes of doing what it was that they did. Yet, they also brought a discomfort level that was for many such a challenge that they never did achieve the required new skills for reaping the benefit. 

 

The pace at which people adjust to new paradigms is incredibly personal. There are folks who never did learn to program their VCRs. And there are people who just don't feel a need to jump on every unproven band wagon that happens along; some until the "bugs have been worked out, and others because they've seen too many Edsels and Beta-max flops. And, as successful as Apple has always been some remember the Apple Newton a "not-yet-ready-for-primetime" predecessor to the iPod and today's smart phones and tablets.

 

Even some of us who are educators remember the resistance to spellcheckers and calculators. Some still are; others insist that students be held responsible for perfect spelling since it is so much easier to spell perfectly when spellcheckers can catch the first 98% of spelling issues. Today no employer will tolerate labor expenses involved with employees who do math "the old inefficent way." Is there an educator reading this commentary who does not know a veteran teacher who to this day still has a significant discomfort with searching for ways to integrate the powers of the internet into his or her classroom even though there are others who signficantly enhance and engage students in the same content at the same school? The problem is not that the old ways "ain't broken" but that like it or not they are obsoleting.

 

I have a hard time leaving my paper books behind and I doubt that the day will come soon that I'd even think about doing so. But, I also do not deny the inevitability of an ongoing digital disruption on every front far into the future.

 

But that's okay. I still have a deep love and appreciation for the experience of driving my wife's 5-speed manual transmission  Prelude "rocket ship". While at the same time appreciating my Nissan Pathfinder's automatic transmission, especially in the crazy traffic in the area where I do my driving. And, I am also perfectly aware of the fact that although I generally keep cars for 10-15 years, the next time I am in the market for a new car, my criteria won't be blazing speed and exquisite handling like the Prelude or comfort in traffic like the Pathfinder. My criteria will be dominated by my concern for sustainability of resources and room for my three adorable grandsons. 

 

 ~ http://www.GoogleLitTrips.com  ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name of GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit

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Marty Roddy's curator insight, November 22, 2013 11:17 PM

Interesting thoughts on reading.

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Unpacking the Literary References Informing ‘Mad Men’ Season 6

Unpacking the Literary References Informing ‘Mad Men’ Season 6 | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading | Scoop.it
WordandFilm.com: Everything in 'Mad Men' is freighted with meaning -- so here's what we're gleaning from the featured books and author quotes.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Don't know about you, but I'm a big fan of Mad Men.

 

I've commented before on the novel-like quality of several modern television series where an ongoing story allows writers to go deep into the psyches and themes over the course of a season. 

 

From Downton Abbey to Boardwalk Empire, to the Sopranos and Mad Men, it's pretty hard to ignore some of the most universal truths captured in the greatest literature.

 

We DVR the show, primarily so we can speed through the commercials, but also so we can do a quick pause when the shot of some character reading some book flashes on the screen.

 

Just looking at the image above, I can't help but wonder if reading The Inferno is going to do Don Draper any good. I hope so since I spent an entire teaching career believing literary reading was one of the great paths leading to a life well lived.

 

 ~ http:///www.GoogleLitTrips.com ~

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