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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30 Giant Figures Seen from Google Earth

30 Giant Figures Seen from Google Earth | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

"Created as part of her Media Arts degree, student Melanie Coles created huge paintings of children’s book character Waldo, or Wally as he’s known outside America, to be placed on various rooftops in Vancouver, Canada, so everyone can play the Where’s Waldo game."




WOW! What are the chances you can find a second Waldo?


I remember "reading" every one of the Where's Waldo books to both of my kids so many times that we all knew exactly where to look on each page to find him. But, it actually took a long time to reach that level of "competency."


In retrospect, I think there's something I always liked about that process that I hadn't really thought about.


Where's Waldo is a slooowww read. The entire premise relies upon slowing us down and engaging us for an extended period of time exploring a single double-page spread. 


Yes, it was a bit frustrating at first, but once one tasted the delights of a first success in "deep and extended" exploration, we were hooked and found that we could explore the same image for an incrediblly long time knowing the joy of "Eureka!" was not beyond our ability if we kept at it.


I've been thinking a lot lately about the role of text as an information media. In some technology neighborhoods, text is becoming the wicked step-child of media; dismissed as inefficient and un-engaging compared with visual and audio media. Why read when you can watch?


My current answer is we need to read text for the same reason that movies always fall short of the depth and breath of the novels from which they may be adapted. 


There's just so much more in a well-written text-based story than can fit into the "commercial-length" adaptations. Visual media, such as film. Certainly there's, more plot action. For what is a movie without action? 


But is there more to think about? Is thematic depth and breadth of non-text storytelling really that deep that intellectually stimulating, that eloquent?


Or, is it really possible to become a deep thinker without studying the writings of deep thinkers?


Could it be that it is we not they who are not up to the task of engaging in deep and extended engagement with the truly great ideas?


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Mmmm, edible books

Mmmm, edible books | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |


Yes great literature can be literally "Food for Thought" or even, perhaps, a new way to teach the possessive apostrophe as in...


"Readers Digest." vs "Reader's Digest" 


I'm glad to see that this phenomenon is not being limited to elementary and primary literature.


For those not familiar with Pinterest, clicking on any image takes you to the original website where the images were found. Many have stories and recipes and links to other related topics.


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A Perfume That Smells Of An Obscure Pleasure: The Printed Word

A Perfume That Smells Of An Obscure Pleasure: The Printed Word | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
In his book A Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart imagines a future in which the very smell of books is disgusting to hyper-digital New Yorkers.




A possible solution to the paper vs digital book controversy?


Now you can have the best of both.


I'd buy this and display it as an objet d'art, except it costs $98!





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PHOTOS: Literary Maze On Display At London 2012 Festival

PHOTOS: Literary Maze On Display At London 2012 Festival | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
As part of the London 2012 Festival, Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo sculpted a maze made out of books.


_"Getting lost in a book is one of life's greatest pleasures, so we imagine getting lost among books would be even more enjoyable!"






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Who Did Mark Twain Think Was The Worst U.S. President?

Who Did Mark Twain Think Was The Worst U.S. President? | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Back then I had begun researching a book on Mark Twain, and early on came across an opinion that America's great humorist set down in 1906 about the then president, Theodore Roosevelt.




One of my favorite sayings about history is, "What we learn from history is that we never seem to learn from history."


During Mark Twain's time, the Republican party had several notable presidents including Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Republicans were actually fairly progressive in those days. 


However, during that time there also was an extreme paradigm shift underway in the United States; perhaps equal to or even exceeding the paradigm shift currently disrupting traditional paradigms. The beginning of a shift from an essentially agrarian-based society towards the emergence of a corporate America, primarily powered by incredible advances in technology, gave rise to disconcerting issues that are echoed everyday in today's news media.


Thought the author does not mention Mark Twain's lesser known work, The Guilded Age, this great fiction writer, like the best fiction writers, nailed the greater truths of the world he lived within. 


EXTRA CREDIT ASSIGNMENT: Read this article. Then watch the news tonight. Can you hear the echo?


Q: What makes great fiction great? 

A: It's truer than non-fiction.



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Exhibit Compares Stephen Colbert And James Joyce

Exhibit Compares Stephen Colbert And James Joyce | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
The press department for the Rosenbach Museum refers to Stephen Colbert's book "I Am A Pole (And So Can You!)" as a "children's book," quotations included.



Seems like it might be a day for slightly off the wall entries!


I've always liked Steven Colbert's intellect. He's obviously well-read and not at all reluctant to bring that intellect into his popular humor program.


This article discusses Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum exhibit comparing Colbert's literary prowess with that of James Joyce. Of course, it caught my eye having recently spent five days meandering around the literary scenes of Joyce and other Dublin writers.


If you haven't seen Colbert's Northwestern University commencement speech or his incredible interview with Maurice Sendak done just prior to Sendak's death, you might be in for a surprise. Both are linked to in this article.



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The weirdest, wackiest and coolest sci/tech stories of 2012 (so far!)

The weirdest, wackiest and coolest sci/tech stories of 2012 (so far!) | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

Number 28 of 41: 

"An innovative project, called Autonomous Dynamic Analysis of Metaphor and Analogy, or ADAMA, aims to build a software system that can automatically analyze metaphorical speech in five different languages by analyzing huge quantities of online data got off the ground this year when the U.S. Army Research Laboratory awarded a $1.4 million contract to the team conducting the research. ADAMA could have immediate applications in forensics, intelligence analysis, business intelligence, sociological research and communication studies, researchers stated."



We may never have to think about what a poem "really means" again! Oh wait a minute!! Literary appreciation isn't on the list of "immediate applications!"


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Classic Books as Wall Art from Postertext | Gear Diary

Classic Books as Wall Art from Postertext | Gear Diary | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Classic Books as Wall Art from Postertext...



Just think this is a cool idea!


The text of several popular classics used to create dramatic posters.


Though it is certainly a commercial site, and the posters are a bit expensive, if you're intrigued and want a glimpse of other titles done in this fashion be sure to click the link to in the article.


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E-Book Is Reading You

E-Book Is Reading You | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Digital-book publishers and retailers now know more about their readers than ever before. How that's changing the experience of reading.




Before we leap to a panic, we must determine whether the conveniences of socializing reading outweighs the concerns of privacy issues raised by this data-driven impact on digital publishing and reading. 


If our privacy concerns outweigh the benefits of socializing reading via massive unprecedented data collection then we have real issues to address.


They question in my mind is whether it might actually be possible to see and react to this dilemma without resorting to an "either/or" conclusion. Can we somehow take advantage of the many positive aspects of socializing our reading without having to give over contol of the necessary data management required by pretty much all web 2.0 resources? 


After reading this article and considering your initial reactions and prior opinions do a little brainstorming activity.


The question is should I be FOR or AGAINST this kind of data-collection?


What are the 5 best reasons for being FOR and for being AGAINST this kind of data-collection?


What are the 5 most significant reasons for having concerns regarding both the FOR and the AGAINST positions?


If you can't think of 5 arguments for and against each position then do some research until you have 5 for each. 


Then ask yourself, "If I had to vote on whether or not to ban this kind of data collection would I vote for or against it?"


EXTRA CREDIT: Write a proposal for a law that would respect the DESIREABLE aspects of each position as well as addressing the need to limit the UNDESIREABLE aspects of each position.


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It's Raining Poems! 100,000 Of Them.

It's Raining Poems! 100,000 Of Them. | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Tonight London will be hit by a poetry storm -- that’s right, it will be raining poetry. Chilean arts collective Casagrande will drop 100,000 poems from a helicopter over the south bank of the Thames river at twilight.



ARGHH!!!! Ships (almost) passing in the night!


And to think that just 7 days ago I was making presentations in London on my Google Lit Trips project!


What an incredible missed opportunity for a LitLover like me!!


Regular readers of this collection may have noticed a sharp decrease in postings over that past couple of weeks. I had an unbelieveable opportunity to present Google Lit Trips in Dublin, Ireland; at Bournemouth University, in Bournemouth, England, and in London. Then after a non-stop flight from London to San Francisco last Friday and a day of laundry catch up, I flew to San Diego for the ISTE Conference and two more Google Lit Trips presentations. 


It has been a Literary Lit Trip to be remembered for sure. From a self designed 8 mile Literary Walk in Dublin passing the one-time home of James Joyce, past a great statue of Irish poet Patrick Cavenaugh, a memorial to Samuel Beckett, through Trinity College alma mater to Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and others and home of The Book of Kells and the absolute most amazing library I've ever seen (see: to Jonathan Swift's presumed birthplace, the very place where Joyce's "The Dead" was set, to..., well okay, there was a short stop at Guinness, but remember it was an 8 mile walk! A bit of liquid refreshment was well, refreshing. What can I say?


Then to Bournemouth University on the coast southwest of London where I visited Mary Shelley who is buried in a churchyard directly across from "The Mary Shelley" a bar. Spent the day at a symposium specifically focused upon the role of place in great literature. Then on to London where I did manage to find time to catch a bit of London theatre; seeing The 39 Steps based upon Alfred Hitchcock's famed film. Tried to get into see Long Days Journey into Night as I happen to live in a fairly tiny town where Eugene Oneill wrote the play. Sadly, I couldn't manage to make showtime. I was also amused when I tried to buy a ticket to Gatz, an adaptation of The Great Gatsby, only to find out that the play was 7 hours long and it began at 2pm in order to have sufficient time for the performance! 


So, I was a bit busy marinating in Literary locations and events. I'm still shivering in the sheer joy of being in the middle of so much literary heritage.


But, missing Gatsby by moments and this Poetry rain by days brings a sigh of envy to those who do get the opportunity to experience such events.



So hey!...What are the chances that someone reading this blog will have been there during the poetry rain and might grab just one of those 100,000 poems to send to me??? 


May be grasping at straws, but my email is: just in case!

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‘Moonrise Kingdom’: Wes Anderson’s animated take on the film’s imaginary books — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO |

‘Moonrise Kingdom’: Wes Anderson’s animated take on the film’s imaginary books — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO | | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
In Wes Anderson’s indie mega-hit Moonrise Kingdom, 12-year-old Suzy (Kara Hayward) packs an unusual set of items for her runaway adventure with her pen-pal boyfriend, Sam (Jared Gilman): A...




Might these be the best books never written?


What a cool idea! As a promo for the upcoming release of the film "Moonrise Kingdom" Wes Anderson has released this animated overview of the suitcase of books carried away by 12 year old Suzy as she runs away. These books are more than just fiction they are FICTION as in they actually aren't even real books at all.


Watch the video. I couldn't help but think there might be at least a dozen ways to engage students in a variety of both reading and writing experiences jumping out of the short video.


I'll be first in line when this film comes to a theatre near me!!


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Who Would Jane Austen Vote For?

Who Would Jane Austen Vote For? | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
If Jane Austen were alive today, how would she vote? Would the champion of marrying for love support gay marriage? Would the advocate of a woman getting to choose her future mate herself support reproductive choice?




This article lands on that fine line between telling me what to think by listening to "the expert" (which I am always both receptive and cautious about doing) and pointing out one of my favorite themes when I'm the person doing to speaking. That is, if the classics are to still be worth reading for reasons beyond cultivating the next generation of literary scholars, they must have engaging relevance to the life and times of their readership.


I'm particularly attracted to the concept put forth hear that the relevance and engagement with the classics has much to do with the frames of reference of the reader. Through Vygotskian constructionist ideas, there may be many different zones of proximity within a diverse population of readers, and thus room for multiple if not infinite bridges to relevance. And by extension, it may be narrowing the value and engagement opportunities to "teach" the scholarly interpretation as "the right answer" when there is always a great possibility that personal reasons for engagement may prove even more meaningful that an expert's reasons for "reading the classics." Though they may be "correct, accurate, and scholarly," they may not necessarily be the richest potential point of engagement. 


Though, I must say that in my own development from casual to serious reader, I often engaged with the classics from "different" points of view than those of the experts. For example, though I have come to love Shakespeare, my early experiences were not positive, mostly because I simply "thought" the plays were boring. I was bored any way, but it was much more a result of my lack of enthusiasm for thinking and my excessive levels of immaturity. However, good ol' Mr. Kay, that key teacher in my coming out of the cocoon of self-absorbtion, stunned me, the Jewish kid, who actually not only came to Shylock's defense, but wondered aloud if maybe Shakespeare might have been Jewish! He casually asked me why as most people thought Merchant of Venice to be an anti-semetic play. 


It was that "do we not bleed" comment. And the fact that CHRISTIAN seemed to be a phony to me. I just kept finding hints that Shylock was vengeful "for understandable reasons" and the Christian was not so Christ-like as he tried to make others think he was.


It was a raw non-expert level of understanding, but I'll be darned if I didn't find it intriguing. And, I found myself having a reason to read the play and pay attention to the class discussions with an interest level that trumped my default low levels of  enthusiasm for thinking and that darned excessive immaturity.


Mr. Kay did not tell me I was wrong. He told me my  ideas were interesting and that he had not really thought about it from that point of view.


From that "get out of the way of a kid beginning to blossom" statement, I found myself wondering if other books might be full of intriguing things to think about. The rest is history.


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Poems for Memorial Day

Poems for Memorial Day | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
In honor of Memorial Day, I've collected a few examples of poets struggling to come to terms with the grief and loss caused by war.




I take Memorial Day very personally. Fifty-one years ago my life took a quite unexpected turn when the plane my father and nine other Naval airmen were on went missing for 10 days.


It was a non-combat crash. The men were returning from a naval training in Seattle. I was 12, my little brother was 7, my mother was 32. 


Ten days is a long time to hold out hope. When "the call" finally came. It fell to my uncle to tell me the news that I already knew.


It was fairly late in the evening and my uncle, a career Air Force man, had been told that a visit would be made the next day to officially inform the family of the tragedy. I didn't know what to expect, but I remember the doorbell ring. My uncle opened the door and there on our porch stood three men in full dress uniform. It was then that it hit me the hardest I think. Even harder than the phone call the evening before in some ways.


I think it was the solemnity of their demeanor that broke my emotional block.


Today, so many decades later, and for the last ten years, as I watch the PBS News Hour's final moments when they list the names of those killed in recent action in Afghanistan and Iraq, I sit in silence; looking at the faces of each of the fallen. I read each name. I read the names of the cities, and towns each came from, and toughest of all, I read each of their ages. Many, younger than my own children. Many only older by months than the thousands of high school students I saw graduate and, I think of their families and the official notification each of them had recently experienced. I think of the children, and spouses, of the communities within which they had lived. 


I find myself remembering that moment on that porch so many years ago, where that official delegation, in full dress uniforms, stood tall knowing the duty they were about to complete.


It's not about my feelings about whether current or any wars are or are not just. It's not about which political party supports and which party does not support those wars. It's not about patriotism.


It's more than that. It's about humanity and whether or not there is hope for the survival of all that is good about being human beings.


This taste of poetry interests me particularly because each poem in its eloquence takes us beyond the surface of our thoughts and opinions. Each reaches for "something beyond" the usual platitudes.


For many years, I taught a satire course. For most of those years, the last book in the semester was Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.


In that book, there is a Memorial Day-like celebration held in the fictional Republic of San Lorenzo where they pay tribute to their national heroes the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy.


In Chapter 114 "When I felt the Bullet enter my Heart." the American ambassador to San Lorenzo gives a speech. For nearly 40 years, everytime I got to this part of the book, I found myself challenged to get through the part of the speech where Ambassador Minton says, "And I propose to you that if we are to pay our sincere respects to the hundred lost children of San Lorenzo, that we might best spend the day despising what killed them: which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness of all mankind.."


He goes on to say, "But if today is really in honor of a hundred children murdered in war, is today a day for a thrilling show?"


"The answer is yes, on one conditions: that we, the celebrants, are working consciously and tirelessly to reduce the stupidity and viciousness of ourselves and of all mankind."


Let us pause and consider what each of us can do to show that depth of respect. It goes beyond a 24-hour moment of solemnity. It requires us to check our own contributions, and actions, throughout our lives to determine what we can do to deserve the sacrifices made in our behalf by those who put themselves in harm's way because they cared.


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Walker Books - Walker Books - The Rights of the Reader Poster

Walker Books - Walker Books - The Rights of the Reader Poster | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |


Trust me on this one!


Click the link in the sentence just below the "The Rights of the Reader Poster" banner to download a very cool poster provided by Walker Books.


And by the way, if you like the poster, the entire site is pretty interesting.


And, a little looking around will lead you to a page full of other free downloads that might be of interest. They're listed by age appropriateness and run from 6 months+ to 14+.


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Is Twitter the Newest Form of Literature? | Idea Channel | PBS

Everyone is familiar with Twitter, the uber-popular micro-blogging site, which limits the user to 140 characters. The tweet is perfect for sharing your favor...





With the exception of  the near "f-bomb" dropped early on, this clever video builds an interesting case for the possibility that Twitter could qualify as a potential new literary form. 


At first, it's easy to dismiss this over the top high energy video as loud and light, but as he builds his case, there's no doubt that he's quite informed regarding the ancestry of other "new forms" that were at first dismissed as not being worthy. Yet, his examples have made their way into the canon. And, of course, in retrospect it's easy to see that they did so precisely by breaking new and therefore uncomfortable ground.


It's worth a watch. Whether you're a Twitter fan or not, it provides a way to appreciate the potential and to demonstrate to our students an enthusiastic welcoming of new ideas, which of course is what we ask them to do everyday.


 ~ http://www/ ~

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WATCH: How To Read A Book

WATCH: How To Read A Book | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Cassidy Tucker (aka Cass Jay Tuck) reads a lot.




 Okay! I saw this and had to scoop it.


Was pretty amused, so I checked out the link to her "English Majors" video. And, well, I had to laugh a bit too even though she gets in the face of a "certain kind of English major."...


or, should I say, a certain kind of English teacher?


Are we making targets of contempt out of ourselves and blaming them or are we marketing wisdom in its most eloquent form to an otherwise distracted potential customer?


Or, ... well what are we doing not only intentionally, but unintentionally?


BTW...She's only 20, has her own YouTube channel ( and has had over 3/4 million viewers. Personally, I think she would have been great to have in class. 


But then again, I taught a satire course for 30+ years.


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SLIDESHOW: 14 Fearless Characters In YA Novels

SLIDESHOW: 14 Fearless Characters In YA Novels | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Yes, I loved junior sleuth "Encyclopedia" (aka Leroy) Brown. He was so smart, so curious, and seemed to be so free of self-doubt. But to me, his sidekick, Sally Kimball, was much more badass.




So is "fearlessness" a desired character trait? 


I certainly admire the courage to face danger in order to "do the right thing." 


But, then again there is a certain tendency for some to define "fearlessness" as too often the result of excess foolishness. We can find sufficient evidence of this brand of foolishness in the vast array of (not-so-)"funny" videos on the internet bringing entertainment to those whose senses of humor are most tickled by movies like the infamous Jackass franchise (Jackass: The Movie, Jackass Number Two, and Jackass 3D, along with web-only offerings Jackass 2.5 and Jackass 3.5)


So, my question is, "Is all fearlessness desireable?"


And, if not, is "badass" (as used in this article) the term we should encourage young readers to admire?


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Are the Rules of Engagement for Serious Novels Changing?

Are the Rules of Engagement for Serious Novels Changing? | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
The one great hope for future generations of writers and readers of serious novels is the success of a category that is showing remarkable buoyancy, the young adult novel.




A MUST READ for anyone engaged in teaching literature!


There is so much in this article worthy of attention in faculty meetings at every grade level that I can't possibly comment on all of the thought provoking, ... no, wait, let me rephrase that, paradigm shattering concepts addressed here.


Here are just a few of the "pause and ponder" quotes that set my paradigms awhirl...



"Overshadowing everything is the reality of time. In order to read the traditional long form novel, a minimum of 70,000 words, one must prepare to devote many hours to truly savor the contents. The competition for our attention and our time is fierce. Reading a novel competes with a vast array of time gobbling activities and attractions that vie for our engagement.

The Internet has forced many of us to compress the way we communicate. The young are now addicted to brevity and abbreviation, and many turn away in frustration when confronted with anything to do with longer forms of communication. Faced with this reality, many authors might take such compression seriously and in self-defense concentrate their talents on short stories and novellas."

. . .


"There is another menace looming on the horizon that endangers the novel. The changing mores of higher education that place utility over culture, meaning that the asinine practice of sending graduates into the market place with high student debts makes it almost mandatory that the courses they take have a practical application in the market place.

Facing such a harsh reality, students may shy away from taking literature courses and altogether eschew a major in English literature because such a degree does not lead to the kind of employment that will earn enough to pay off their debts."

. . .


"The problem for them (today's serious writers) and all of us scribblers in this realm is getting the attention of a distracted populace, many of whom have ignored or never experienced the deeper insights into the human condition provided by long form serious novels."




There are more. 


I won't share the last paragraph which is one of several favorite quotes from this article. But, anyone who feels a responsibility to encourage their students to engage in the reading of great fiction as a source of the best advise for living in the real world MUST read this article and then pause and ponder how these ideas should play out in his or her classroom.


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9 Books That Make You Undateable

9 Books That Make You Undateable | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
There's a lot of red tape to cut through before completely committing to a relationship: There's the ex talk, the meeting of the parents, and if you're a literature nerd there's the unavoidable conversation about your respective favorite books.




Bibliophiles will get a kick out of this.


Haven't been single in "several" decades, but there's something intriguing about this article. On the surface, it appears to be rather light in intent, but there's much to think about at the same time. 


There is some truth in it's premise that our literary lives might truly play an interesting role in our search for that Mr. or Ms Right.


Can't help but wonder what titles would be included in an article that lists books that make you truly dateable or worthy of serious consideration as that Mr. or Ms Right someone is looking for.


Also wondering what variations of this concept might be engaging for not only pre- and neo-bibliophiles but also for reluctant readers.


Anything to encourage pausing and thinking about what makes reading a go-to activity in this "anything goes" world of ours.


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5 action sports videos with a new kind of storytelling | Matador Network

5 action sports videos with a new kind of storytelling | Matador Network | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

"The newest evolution — what I think of as the “Essence” or “Human Struggle” kind of film — is marked by the athlete’s demystification, his or her very personal narrative. Different from “lifestyle” pieces (like MTV “Cribs” or works showing the athlete “at home”), Human Struggle films are still very much rooted in sports, but boiled down to the essence, the question of “why” the athlete engages in a particular sport. As opposed to the mythic “hero” of Old School films or the equally abstracted “performer” in New School videos, Human Struggle filmmaking is all about the athlete’s inner conflicts, backstory, and motivations. And in this way it becomes universally relevant."





What a great find this one is!


What happens when the "essence" of great storytelling comes to sports videos? Totally captivating stories that focus not on the glory but on the "why" motivating athletes to engage in their sport. 


If your interest in extreme sports or "digital storytelling" is of significantly less interest than your interest in reading and classic literature, then here's an eye-opening challenge. 


Help me find some text-based stories that could be used as an immediate follow-up to these incredible video stories that go right to the heart of the human condition via personal stories of those involved in extreme sports. 


If you have reluctant readers, these videos might just be an incredibly short bridge to engaging those students in the power of great storytelling. 


After watching these short videos, send me the names of any equally engaging text-based stories. (


And, I just can't help but wonder what students might do if challenged to reinterpret some of the great stories we already love to teach in the style of these up close and personal stories? 


What characters might be good subjects for such a treatment?


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Invitation to World Literature

Invitation to World Literature | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |


 What an incredible "Invitation to World Literature." This site does just that. It provides a welcoming invitation to explore 13 of the greatest works of world literature in such a way that viewers can explore each at significant depth via wonderful collections of maps, videos, discussions, timelines, slideshows, and ... Well, there's so much you'll just have to explore for yourself.


But, what makes this resource stand out above many other resources available for these titles is that the website manages to constantly stay focused on its "welcoming" ambience. This is accomplished via an elegantly balance that avoids two of the pitfalls of other sites.


The design provides great depth while simultaneously avoiding the all too often mind-numbing attention to intellectual minutiae that more often than not leads to "deaden-gagement" rather than enthusiastic engagement in all but the most scholarly of literature lovers. 


Yet at the same time it avoids the opposite problem of going "lite;" in a misguided attempt to make great literature "fun"  by reducing great literature to cartoon versions of themselves hoping that dumbing down is engaging rather than insulting.


Some of the titles are much more commonly used in schools than others, but if you teach any of these titles, you really need to do a deep dive of the resources available here:


The Epic of Gilgmesh

My Name is Red

The Odyssey

The Bacchae

The Bhagavad Gita

The Tale of Genji

Journey to the West

Popol Vuh


Things Fall Apart

One Hundred Years of Solitude

The God of Small Things

The Thousand and One Nights


Great Stuff!


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Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System

Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

by Chis Hedges


Please be warned, this is a strong indictment. -JL


"A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs."




Yes, this is a harsh condemnation and there are certainly people of reasonable intellect who might find it "too harsh" a condemnation. However, even if the tone were "lightened up" to avoid the "auto-reject" potential, there are points of very serious concern regarding the issues facing all societies who claim to care about the quality of their education systems.



Perhaps it's time, or long past the time, to admit this elephant is in the room and always has been. And, as is the case with all elephants in the room that are ignored, we are paying a great price for allowing ourselves to ignore it.


I've always wondered why so many are so willing to believe this elephant isn't there.


Perhaps, the answer has something to do with the the sage advise, "Follow the money!"


Is the education system as good as it can be? Of course not, but scapegoating teachers and the system without wondering whether there are some sacred cows not being considered as major contributors to the situation will never really lead to the kinds of changes we claim to want for our children's education.


And the longer we consider those sacred cows to be immune from question or criticism, the more difficult it will be to undo the damage that ignoring their roles in the improvement of our children's educations.


 What does this all have to do with the role of reading? The great literatures of the world challenge our existing paradigms. They point out the elephants we pretend are not there and give us reason to question what we have not questioned. 


Here's a challenge. Find yourself a copy of George Orwell's Animal Farm and forget everything you may think you know about the story. Yes, it was modeled after the Russian Revolution of 1905. Yes it has serious political lessons worth considering. BUT, just this once, read it with a different set of eyes. Pay attention to the NON-pig animals on the farm; those usually portrayed as innocent victims of the evil pigs. And, ask yourself, "Just how innocent are they?" Each has an excuse for not being part of the actual solution to the problem. 


What excuses get just a little too close to home?

Are you a Molly? a Benjamin? a Muriel? a sheep? a Clover? a Boxer? 


Though mostly considered innocent, each in his or her own way is part of the problem and therefore has obligations to be bigger parts of the solution; that is if they really care and aren't just saying they care. But, of course, perhaps the lessons of Animal Farm don't apply to education.



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Via Jim Lerman
lelapin's comment, June 30, 2012 8:09 AM
I'm afraid this is really happening and not only in the US.
Mark E. Deschaine, PhD's curator insight, March 10, 2014 1:19 PM

Interesting points made here ....

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Simply Made Home: Reading to the Big Kids: Continuing the Gift of Literature

Simply Made Home: Reading to the Big Kids: Continuing the Gift of Literature | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |


Of course it's not news that reading stories to children is a good idea. Modeling a love of a good story, exercising the imagination, sharing the moments of storytelling are cherished moments that are fondly recalled in most children's lives if they've been fortunate enough to have been read to a lot. 


As parents, doing the reading, though the day may have been long and adult obligations may have left us barely able to manage the energy to read those bedtime stories at all, they too become cherished memories once the little ones are old enough to read to themselves and even to disinvite us from lying down with them in their beds for storytime.


When I taught a high school creative writing class, I began every semester with storytime on the first day. Before we even had a chance to get to know each other, my students found themselves sitting on the floor in a semi-circle, many a bit self-conscious, wondering what they'd gotten themselves into, while I sat in a low chair with a stack of favorite children's books. As I opened Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, turned the book to face the class, positioned my head over the top of the book so that I could attempt to read the story upside down, I'd stop suddenly and say, "Oh! I forgot! Just a minute." And, I'd place the book on my chair, get up and to to my desk which was now behind them and get the paper cups, milk, and graham crackers I'd brought in just for the occassion. It was a pretty rare kid who didn't grin broadly as I'd triggered some fond memory of being read to at an early age. I had 'em and they were mine for the rest of the semester.


I'd spend the rest of that first day, popping out another fondly remembered book, one after another until about the last 15 minutes or so when I pulled out a book most had not heard of. It was Uncle Shelby's ABZs. (

My first copy was printed before the publishers felt the need to include the "warning" on the back cover suggesting that it is a book you won't want your children to read. And of course, my high school kids loved it!

I'd end the day with a reading of The House that Crack Built. ( A take off on the old The House that Jack Built, but this story presented in a straight-faced children's book format is about a far more serious situation than the original story. 


In one short class period, I'd built a bridge from the fondly remembered storybooks of their childhood to the kinds of creative thinking that are at the source of "new story" ideas. 


I also learned in my teaching career that the oft-used strategy for starting a new piece of literature in class of having students take turns reading small portions aloud was, ... well ... much more often extremely counter-productive rather than productive. I'd actually go so far as to say that rather than being productive (as in engaging) it is rarely anything more than destructive regarding any possibility of generating an engagement with a previously unknown and sometimes challenging read.


Sitting in a classroom, listening to multiple students hack their way through a cold reading of a passage, even a short one, that may have vocabulary, and setting, cultural refereences, and levels of eloquence beyond their previous exposure and interest, is a dreadful way to create an intriguing first impression. 


I almost always read the opening chapters or scenes to my students. Why? Because I'm a really good reader. I read the correct tone and intrigue into the story and they "hear" the actual story as it begins to come to life in the stories opening pages. 


On the next day, I'd invite just a few of the better readers to "help" me read aloud. They were invited to read only the actual words spoken by the character I'd ask them to read. But I'd read every word not actually spoken by a character. If a sentence read something like, "Well, I don't know," John said, "Maybe we ought to wait until dark." I'd make a big deal about correcting the student who included the words "John said," because those were MY LINES! So, I'd stop the kid explain that he was only to read the words actually spoken and we'd do "Take Two." The whole class found that to be sort of amusing and we'd have a great time finishing up the reading of the passage. 


It seems silly, but it planted the seed of having a bit of fun while reading, yet getting the initial storyline set with a focus on the story rather than on the nervous cold error-laden reading of uncomfortable students being put on the spot.


Of course, we didn't read entire books or plays aloud. But, when we did read aloud, it was always by volunteers only with a few rules that kept the same good readers from basking in the spotlight.


Rule 1: Volunteers could only read once a day, (or occassionally only once every three days)


Rule 2: Volunteers could read as little as one paragraph or as short a passage as much as "the rest of the page. If a page ended mid sentence, or even mid hyphenated word, they had to stop in mid sentence, or mid hypenated word.


Rule 3: When one volunteer stopped reading, the next volunteer would simply be the first person to pick up the story and start reading. The kids found it pretty amusing. Reluctant readers frequently were on the edge of their seats ready to leap in when they saw that the "next paragraph was a single line of dialogue." The better readers were pretty enthusiastic about trying to be the first to pick up the reading when they determined that the current reader was going to read to the last word on a page.


It was a silly game, I suppose, but the pressure was off the reluctant reader to feel trapped into revealing his or her own insecurity about reading well. And in that arena of comfort many became comfortable enough to eventually choose to read longer and longer passages once the class bought into the idea that every reader was contributing regardless of how much they chose to read. 


And it was also quite welcome to the entire class not to have the "star students" spending inordinate amounts of time basking in the spotlight "again."


Rule 1 for ME: Constant appreciation for volunteers regardless of how much they read. And, positive recognition for those who weren't quite fast enough to "get to read next." It was always easy enough to "think I heard them first" the next time they tried to get the next part first.


And, whether a kid was hoping to grab a very short part or an entire page, there was a level of attentiveness to every word being read as kids anticipated an opportunity to read aloud and get the praise and good feeling for having been a part of the read-aloud for the day. 


Our classes were 90 minutes long. And, I usually gave anywhere from 10-20 pages of reading homework a night depending upon the class and the story's chapter lengths. So, I'd frequently plan about 75 minutes of lesson and then say, "Well, it looks like we've got some time left. Whattya say we knock off a few pages of tonight's homework by reading aloud?" That of course was welcome as it "shortened" the homework by a few pages. It also provided a taste of the story line's direction and set up a bit of a cliff hanger atmosphere going into to homework reading.


It wasn't a panacea of course. But, it was remarkable how just a bit of psychological maneuvering increased the comfort levels of all students by easing anxiety for the anxious, encouraging all students via expressions of appreciation from the teacher for all contributions to the reading, and setting up reasons for "better readers" to appreciate the discomfort of the less confident readers, while at the same time alleviating the pain of having to listen to struggling readers read long passages, as well as setting up the limiting of "star students" from grabbing all the attention that too often left the rest of the class just a tad uncomfortable about their own lesser confidence levels. 


And, of course, whether one was a struggling or a star student, everyone appreciated any shortening of the homework assignment!


Reading should be comfortable, cozy, enjoyable, intriguing, inviting, interesting, and so much more. They all remember when they enjoyed being read to. Some went on to become avid readers; others did not. In either case, just a bit of choreography designed to side-step the negative triggers and to dwell among the triggers of positive engagement with reading can make a remarkable difference in attitude as the reading gets more and more sophisticated and challenging as it pushes students beyond their existing worlds and areas of interest.


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TechCrunch | Taptu Adds “Magic” Article Recommendations Based On Your Reading Habits

TechCrunch | Taptu Adds “Magic” Article Recommendations Based On Your Reading Habits | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
News app Taptu is adding a feature called Magic, starting with a new version of its Android app that just went live.

When you name something Magic, it has a lot to live up to. In Taptu's case, the idea sounds pretty impressive.




About to leave for Heathrow Airport outside London after an 11 day 3 stop speaking tour. Stops at Google Headquarters in Dublin, Bournemouth University in Bournemouth, UK and here at Google Offices in London.


While in Bournemouth, I took the opportunity to visit the burial place of Mary Shelley author of "Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus." For those unfamilar with the original story, Frankenstein is NOT the monster, but the creation of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. 


Long before reading the book, my familiarity with the story was based upon the 1931 film where Boris Karloff had 4th billing as the monster, though few could probably name the three actors who had higher billing.


It was scary! The monster was, well, a monster! EXCEPT for in that one gentle scene where he watches a young girl from afar with an almost kindly affection for her young innocence.


I missed the idea that the monster was victim more than perpetrator of evil. He was miserable throughout the story as he was treated with raging fear from the classic unknowing peasants with torches. Eventually like many persued and persecuted have done, he did become angry by the treatment he received. He did in his clumsiness, cause some harm to innocents.


But I keep remember the compassionate moment with the young girl and the rage  of those peasants with torches whose emotional outrage was not to be tempered by rational thought. 


Over time those "peasants with torches," along with those who came before and after them have come to represent the ignorance of "provincial thinking" dominated by a too limited interaction with the rest of the world to recognize the limitations of their understanding of the world.


I couldn't help but recall these thoughts when I came across this article...




Magic? I don't think so.

Well actually this technology may well be magic if we consider the fact that "magic" is no more than illusion and trickery.


Magic is entertaining scamming whereby the clever amuse us with demonstrations of our potential and existing suseptibility to deceit.


I've been a technology enthusiast for a long time. I still love it; still think it holds one of the potential keys for optimism regarding education and the kinds of information access that might alleviate some of the historical chagrin caused  by the lack of or limited access to the accumulated wisdom of those who cared about the human condition before us.


BUT, we may also ignoring technology's potential as a tool for entertaining deceit, maliciously intended or otherwise.


Remember that old saying, "It seemed like a good idea at the time"? This wisdom is most often used when defending ourselves against what has proven to be acts of short-sightedness.


 This "Magic" App seems like a good idea. With so much information out there, technology can analyze what we read and "magically" filter all that information down to only the kinds of information we want to read. Okay, my interest in sports has waned over the years, and it is convenient to not have to find articles I might want to read in if they are not the few needles in the haystack of information, misinformation, and disinformation that my adored iPad can bring to me.


But how wise is it to intentionally narrow our field of interest to only the information that some algorithm matches what I read to what some programmer assumes I might like because it is similar? The very example used in this story is frightening. If I read more articles about Democrats it will assume that I'd appreciate fewer articles about Republicans.  


Of course, I realize that since my particular reading habits DO include reading what the rational voices on either side of the political spectrum are saying that I'd be presented with a more balanced selection of articles to read. That is if the algorithem is capable of recognizing which voices on either side are the rational voices. But, we need only look at "the incredible depth of superficiality" in our political "discourse" to see that too many people select their information sources based upon what they want to hear and believe rather than upon a desire to be truly informed about the rational dialogue of intelligent voices of differing opinions. 


If ignorance comes before wisdom then perhaps we ought not be so enthusiastic about technologies that allow us to marinate exclusively in the kinds of information that preclude seeking or serendipitously presenting us with information beyond the perimeters of our ignorance. 


I remember how intrigued I was when I first heard about putting blinders on horses in order to intentially restrict their field of vision to the world their "masters" wanted them to see. And, I remember wondering what it would be like to live my life with blinders that I had no way of removing. It horrified me in a claustrophobic sort of way even as a child.


Yet, though of course it would be ungracious of me to suggest that readers of these comments are intentionally putting on informational blinders, we would be naive to believe that the great many fans of the cable news stations, political pundits, or politicians that we happen to disagree with, are not too often adamantly blinding themselves to the rational arguments, opinions, and idea of those cable news stations, political pundits, and politicians that we DO agree with. 


Though there are many advantages to technology's ability to help me sort through the Tsunami of Information that a 21st century human being is confronted with, we ought to also keep in mind that those very abilities can and too often do also lead to a potential globalization of provincial thinking which in truth is not really thinking at all.


Let us encourage our students to want to read beyond the areas of their existing areas interests. They may find new and more important passions to follow as we all might if we are cautious about the blinders we inadvertently thought were a good idea at the time.


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The Great Pinkie

A mashup between The Great Gatsby and My Little Pony. In this mashup I've added a few references from the novel into the video, so if you read the book, be o...




A few days ago I scooped the movie trailer for the new Leonardo DiCaprio version of The Great Gatsby. In that scoop I mentioned the controversy over film adaptations of great works of literature. I mentioned that I happened to like the radicalized version of DiCaprio's Romeo and Juliet, yet I had reservations about the TNT version of Animal Farm. In the first case, I found the quite unusual adaptation quite appealing, yet in the second, I was truly annoyed by the straying from the original.


So, when I stumbled across this re-visioning of The Great Gatsby, I must say I wasn't quite certain whether there was something quite appealing or something quite repulsive about it. And, perhaps the truth is that both appeal and repulsion can co-exist in these sort of situations.


I'd certainly show it to students if I were teaching Gatsby. In fact, at one surface level, I quite like the comparison of say, Daisy's "princess" lifestyle with the whole My Little Pony emphasis upon bling and prettiness and such.


But, though I am not attracted to Daisy's lifestyle, it's difficult not to have compassion for her when she reveals her awareness that she has chosen to live a fraudulent life believing, "The best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool."


It's almost too sadly confessional. I don't recall a similar recognition by the princesses in My Little Pony stories. Though, I must admit that my familiarity with the academic analysis relating to the thematic content of My Little Pony is thin at best.


In any case, there is sufficient evidence in the media and elsewhere that there are forces still at play guiding little girls to aspire to being nothing more than "beautiful little fools."


And of course, it should be noted that there are also still forces at play guiding little boys to believe that they have a gender-based privilege that makes aspiring to become a Tom Buchanan appear to be a worthy ambition.


We still have much work to do, don't we?


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