professornana (professornana) wrote,

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What is the purpose of reading? It is multi-layered.

I ran across this quote from a posting by Diane Ravitch. You can read the entire post here:

All these criteria lead to an egregious outcome: the whole point of reading is ignored. The reason why anyone bothers to read to begin with gets lost. We read because we become interested in something and want to know about or understand it, or we read simply because we want to be entertained. In the former case, we become interested in, say, vegan cooking or rock climbing or Mayans or space travel or the Holocaust, and we search out the best, most informative, works on the topic and read those. In the latter, we read particular works because we, as individuals, have a taste for science fiction or mysteries or popular science or pop sci self help, and we choose to crack the most interesting titles in those areas that we come across. We do NOT choose our reading because we need to work on our identifying metaphors skills. That skills learning happens incidentally because we are readers, and we are readers because we want to know or want to be entertained.

This was, of course, in response to the Model Frameworks of CCSS. Similar to the old thematic units, these frameworks search for bits and pieces of text that cover different genres and include nonfiction and meet reading levels specified in CCSS. These pieces are then glued together using some sort of general theme (and as the author of this posting points out, they are not really themes) and presented to kids.

The answer to why we read is eloquently and simply stated in the quote. HOW we read is a bit more complex. A recent posting about the HEART of a reader spurred some interesting comments on Facebook with Paul Hankins and Katherine Sokolowski adding more dimension to my original posting. We ended up noting that our reading lives are made up of LAYERS. The layers are those books that form around the heart, building us as readers to extend the original analogy. Layers can be tightly packed (those books that touch us deeply, especially those we turn back to read again and again) or loosely formed (books that we might forget until someone else mentions the title and we immediately feel that connection to the text again). Our layers of reading can unite us through text and our reaction to it.

And this afternoon on Twitter, several of us were asking for some recommendations for next books. How I love my Twitter and Facebook family as there is always someone online to make recommendations for me when I seem to be in a slump. There was also talk about the book a couple of us had just finished reading with some singing praises and others saying they were underwhelmed by the same text. It comes back to the ONE SIZE FITS ALL thinking. The model frameworks allow for zero choice when it comes to reading. Everything is prescribed and then assessed. What kind of purpose for reading is that?

During winter break College Girl has been plowing through my shelves and devouring books, this in the wake of a new phone and tablet. She remarked that high school had just about killed the love of reading for her, but she was coming back. She even got her older sister, Career Girl, to download HUNGER GAMES to read. How lucky these two were to have been surrounded by books all their lives. To have people talk about books, to have free choice (at least at home). And so they can come back to reading. I worry though about those kids who will never return to the land of reading and who will never develop a reader's heart.

As we head back into classrooms after holiday end, I hope we will help build some layers for kids, help them to find their reader's heart.
Tags: books, ccss, choice, purpose, reading
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