F O C U S on reading
TAKE TIME TO READ, For It Is the Fountain of Knowledge TAKING THE TIME TO READ
We’re surrounded all the time by claims on our attention. We have so many things to do—worthwhile, important ways to spend our time, to the point where we have to say “no” to some things that really matter. We have learned to be discerning, but as we say “yes” and “no” both, personal, quiet time alone with a book continues to fall further and further down the priority ladder. Many people will go to the computer or television before picking up a book. Research indicates that reading time is significantly down for adults. From 1982 until now, it has dropped around 25 percent, with only a little over 40 percent of adults having read any fiction in the past year. (17,000 adults surveyed)
WHERE CAN WE FIND TIME TO READ?
A recent article titled “Family Unplugged,” by author Shawn Bean, addresses technology, and he begins by pointing out how very alluring it is, how the little red blinking lights, the unopened envelope that dings, the vibration you feel in your pocket, can tempt you in almost any situation, luring you away from the present. Bean writes about his family being on vacation; they are all sitting in a cabin in Cape Cod, four people with four screens, rather than talking to one another. That’s when he decided to do something. It was time to break up with the blinking lights! Take an Internet Sabbath! From bedtime Friday to sunrise Monday, all pluggedin devices were off-limits, including laptops and smart phones. Another man took his sons on a five-day digital sabbatical. What they
FOCUS ON ARTESIA | FALL 2013
noticed was that the house felt very different, that they kept catching themselves reaching for a tech fix. They were going through withdrawals. And when they began thinking of alternatives to electric entertainment, they were planning high energy, visually stimulating, fast-paced activities, until the father asked, “Why am I trying to recreate television or a video game?” If we were to deliberately unplug, there would be time for other things—including reading. It would be good to rediscover undivided attention, eye contact, stillness. An appreciation for and appreciation of technology is essential in this era, but it is also increasingly important to take deliberate control in avoiding the pitfalls.
READING IS THE FOUNTAIN OF KNOWLEDGE
Experts will tell you the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. In that wording—“the single most important activity”—the experts are saying reading aloud is more important than worksheets, homework, assessments, book reports and flashcards. One of the cheapest, simplest and oldest tools of teaching is being promoted as a better teaching tool than anything else in the home or classroom. There is conclusive evidence to support reading aloud is important not only in the home but also in the classroom. “It is a practice that should
continue throughout the grades.” Here’s eye-opening research that’s uncomfortable, but so important it can be compared to all that smoking and cancer research—except this tells us why certain kids’ brains live long and why other children’s brains die young. The daily number of words for different groups of children was projected across four years; the fouryear-old child from the professional family will have heard 45 million words, the working-class child 26 million, and the welfare child only 13 million. There is one skill that matters above all others because it is the prime predictor of school success or failure: