Saturday, February 23, 2008

Reading is Dead!!

For most of my lifetime, I’ve heard that reading is dead. In that time, disco has died, drive-in movies have nearly died, and something called The Clapper has come and gone through bedrooms across the nation.

I thought that might grab your attention! The above quote from an Op-Ed article in the NY Times in response to Steve Jobs' attitude about the Kindle. It seems that Mr. Jobs doesn't believe that this gadget that I covet will change much about reading - that "people don't read anymore."

As someone who spends a great deal of time and money in her local bookstore, who gives books as presents and can't seem to read enough - that statement made me sad. My family has always modeled and encouraged reading and we continue to do so with our next generation. My kindergarten niece, Gracie, is at the stage where she sounds out her words as she reads - opening the eyes of everyone to how we make sense of the written word. My nephew, aged 3, is at the stage where he memorizes the stories that have been told to him time and time again. Unlike his dad, whose favorite was Hop on Pop, Brody has No, David! down pat. Reading isn't dead in our family.

And I don't believe that is is dead elsewhere. I do, however, believe that it is changing. I don't think of "text" as purely a novel or short story or anything with a binding. I believe that it is anything that is written - including this blog. It is the exposure to words and ideas that is important, not the format. So I was thrilled this morning to read that Scotland has released it's new outcomes for literacy. Included in it's definition of texts (which is intended to be broad and future proof!) are the following examples of text:

novels, short stories, plays, poems, reference texts, the spoken word, charts, maps, graphs and timetables, advertisements, promotional leaflets, comics, newspapers and magazines, CVs, letters and e-mails, films, games and TV programmes, labels, signs and posters, recipes, manuals and instructions, reports and reviews, text messages, blogs and social networking sites, web pages, catalogues and directories. (emphasis added)

Now - I did not stumble upon this information by accident. It appeared in my Bloglines feed from someone else's blog and I followed the links to read the documents. That is the nature of reading today - not simply curling up with a book (I do that too!) but curling up with your laptop and challenging your thinking by reading what folks in other places are doing. In the past year, I have learned more about literacy from people in New Zealand and Scotland than I have here in the United States. Some ideas I have agreed with, some I have questioned. But all have helped me to form my understanding of literacy.

Reading isn't dead - but it is changing. Are you?

(Photo of PreK niece and 2nd Grade niece during "reading time.")

1 comment:

Carol said...

Reading is dead?!?!?
Whatever you do, don't tell my daughter. She cried when the cricket trapped in our walls died, so I don't think she can handle the death of reading, which she loves much, much, much more than some random cricket. :)

Anyway, as you so eloquently said: reading webpages, blogs, etc. is still reading. Therefore, if reading were dead, Steve Jobs would be out of a job.

I myself just read Gone with the Wind for the first time last week. It was such an incredibly memorable book. (It was also so racist that it made me blush at times, but that's another issue.) The characters and emotions have stayed with me long beyond the closing page. So reading is still alive and thriving in my family as well.

Great picture. You have a lovely family.