Learning how to read was a profound cultural and cognitive shift in the history of human beings. Reading has the capacity of changing the course of one’s life. Most of us know how to read, and thanks to recent research and books, like Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid, how the brain learns to read and how reading changes the way we think and feel was finally revealed. And that allowed all reading brains to move from adoring the charm of written words to the appreciation of the underlying science, and thus discover reading in an unprecedented way. We began to understand why it’s easier for some adults and children to read than others. We realized how getting immersed in pages and letters spark innovation and originality and broaden perception. But if merely knowing the mechanism of how the brain learns to read had such a profound effect on us, what would do the shift to the digital realm?
In “Reader, Come Home,” Wolf spells out what needs protecting: the knowledge, analytical thinking, capacity for sustained attention, and empathy for others inspired by immersion in books. She’s right that digital media doesn’t automatically doom deep reading and can even enhance it. She’s also correct that we have a lot to lose — all of us — if we don’t pay attention to what we’re doing with technology and what it’s doing to us.
An accessible, well-researched analysis of the impact of literacy.
Children come into the world burning to learn and genetically programmed with extraordinary capacities for learning. Within their first four years or so they absorb an unfathomable amount of information and skills without any instruction. They learn to understand and speak the language of the culture into which they are born,
Engaged readers are often motivated to read, strategic in their approaches to comprehending what they read, knowledgeable in their construction of meaning from text, and socially interactive while reading. Sometimes to help readers with the goal of engagement, you actually need to work on comprehension.
Before two years of age, human interaction and physical interaction with books and print are the best entry into the world of oral and written language and internalized knowledge, the building blocks of the later reading circuit.
I still bought many books, but more and more I read in them, rather than being whisked away by them.
Deep reading is always about *connection*: connecting what we know to what we read, what we read to what we feel, what we feel to what we think, and how we think to how we live out our lives in a connected world.
Do you notice when reading on a screen that you are increasingly reading for key words and skimming over the rest?
Only one-third of twenty-first-century American children now read with sufficient understanding and speed at the exact age when their future learning depends on it.
The central issue is not their intelligence, nor, more than likely, even their lack of familiarity with different styles of writing. Rather, it may come back to a lack of cognitive patience with demanding critical analytic thinking and a concomitant failure to acquire the cognitive persistence.
We must ask whether current students’ diminishing familiarity with conceptually demanding prose and the daily truncating of their writing on social media is affecting their writing in more negative ways than in the past.
There are many things that would be lost if we slowly lose the cognitive patience to immerse ourselves in the worlds created by books and the lives and feelings of the “friends” who inhabit them.