Monday, November 21, 2016

Just Read

Lifted shamelessly from Instagram.
Civil-rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis cites the value of reading and libraries and teachers on the occasion of accepting the National Book Award.

The movie Selma tells some of the story of this national hero. I highly recommend it! And I will be ordering the graphic novel for which he and his co-authors won this award: March: Book Three (the link is to a boxed set of all three volumes; each volume is available in a couple of formats). To learn about the importance of this series, see Jody Arlington's review of the first volume, the Washington Post's announcement of the award for Book Three. I also recommend his 2009 interview with Terry Gross, about the movement to win the vote..

Good writing stems from time spent reading. If I see what someone has written, I cannot tell whether they went to a "good" school or not. But I can tell whether they have devoted any serious attention to reading. For more on the connections between reading and writing, please see my How to Become a Better Writer page. It is one of several Writing Tips pages on my Not-the-13th-Grade web site. As "Dear Abby" Abigail Van Buren has written, "Those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot read."

For more on libraries, visit the web site or blog of my favorite librarian.


Item #3 above refers to the skills ascribed to Christian mystic Edgar Cayce.


In the same week that Rep. Lewis so eloquently articulated the importance of reading, other politicians announce their opposition to literacy. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyders -- and his education bureaucrats -- have argued in court that students in Detroit have no right to an education that would afford them basic literacy.
Gov. Snyders doubles down on low-quality education.

All of this comes as the results of a study of information literacy confirms that students across a wide range of ages have difficulty discerning real news from fake news or opinion. When "my opinion is as good as your facts," reality becomes a very slippery concept. The Wall Street Journal report on this study cites educational "consultants" who blame parents for not teaching information literacy, even as it admits that high-stakes testing and the elimination of school librarians are the real culprits.

In addition to bringing information professionals back into schools and allowing teachers to teach there subjects rather than taking of tests, students should be encouraged at every turn to read both deeply and widely. The more we read, the less easily we are fooled.

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