Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Spectacle of Reading

“Would you like a hug, a high-five, or a handshake?” 

The preschooler took up her teacher’s offer of a high-five, having successfully read all three sentences on the board by herself.

“Now give your brain a kiss.” 

At the teacher’s encouragement, the preschool girl kissed her hand and tapped it on her head. It may very well have been the cutest thing I have ever seen.

This ritual of reward marks the end of each of the preschoolers turns at the board, whether they read the whole text, or simply identify letters that they know. [...]

Monday, January 21, 2013

What is the Matter that You Read?

Maybe it seems like a moot point to define literature—debates about what literature is, what it includes or excludes in its canon, seem impossible to resolve. Although according to the Oxford English Dictionary (3rd edition) the initial definition of the word “literature” meant simply the use of letters or knowledge gained from reading any written text, “literature” often now indicates only the literary. [...]

Monday, January 14, 2013

Literacy, Literature, and the Literary: Defining Practices of Reading

           “Reading” is a complicated word: reading can mean the simple act of reading a novel, the process of constructing a perspective on a text (doing a reading), or a larger educational phenomenon which is often dedicated its own week in elementary school battles of the books. In any of these cases, the object one reads can vary—from children’s books to contemporary bestsellers to “high” literature to cultural objects and works of art—as can the process itself, whether for enjoyment, practical skills, or academic argument. [...]