Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Discover the pleasure of rereading a favorite book.

Treat yourself and reread a favorite book. Not only do you reap the benefits of meeting an old friend you loved, but you also discover a different you who is now reading the book, but with different eyes. Experience the wisdom of Marcel Proust who said : “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
When I read a book to a classroom of children they often tell me ‘they know that story” and when I have finished the story, I hear a small voice say in awe, “ the story changed—that is not how I remember it.” Of course the story hasn’t changed—it is the listener who has changed.  It was Mark Twain, who said in a letter written to William Dean Howells in 18187,  “Nothing remains the same.” Each read delivers new riches.
Nothing demonstrates how personal reading is more clearly than rereading.  I just reread Bridge to Terabithia and want to share one of my souvenirs from that timeless book.   “Sometimes it seemed to him that his life was delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction, and it was blown to bits.” From Bridge to Terabithia
In the books you read, begin to look for your souvenirs, a quote from a story you want to remember— and discover the power of ideas and how they are expressed. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Words and verbal fatigue. Are you beginning to sound like everyone else?

I love words and I marvel how all of a sudden people can easily begin to sound like everyone else. Believe it or not, there is actually someone who keeps track of words and phr is actually someone who keeps track of words and phrases that are over used. Though maybe "you could care less," the scholars in question keep track of linguistic mangling and overused buzzwords in a database called the Oxford University Corpus. The voluminous record keeps track of books, magazines, broadcast, online media and other sources, watching for new overused, tiresome phrases and retiring those that fade from use (or misuse). Here are a few of my favorites and yes, I too probably over use these words and phrases.
The great hierarchy of verbal fatigue includes:
1 – At the end of the day
2 – Fairly unique
3 – I personally
4 – At this moment in time
5 – With all due respect
6 – Absolutely
7 – It’s a nightmare
8 – Shouldn’t of
9 – 24/7
10 – It’s not rocket science

Friday, July 8, 2011

Digitally interactive books versus a child's imagination.

My thoughts on digital books continue to evolve with new information and data on their effects on the way children read. If I was ‘Tsarina’ today…. I would like to keep children reading books they hold in their hands. A child’s brain develops most dramatically during the first five years and shapes how their brain matures. I am concerned that reading digitally adversely affects how children read and comprehend. I watch children reading digitally and I see how multi-tasking and distraction are part of that experience.

Offering children digitally interactive book brings up other issues as well.
I recently looked at the popular Alice and Wonderland digital book app and I found it difficult to get to the story— which took a back seat to the inter active nature of the app. Do I need the White Rabbit’s old-fashioned pocket watch or a jar of marmalade to move when I tilt the iPad or touch an object?  The question is what are children losing and what are they gaining when they digitally read versus reading a book they hold in their hands. My worry is that children reading on digital devices are losing some of the essential qualities of reading—the ability to concentrate deeply, reflect and peruse meaning.

Book apps mix text with video, sound and game-like interactivity. Authors and publishers are recasting themselves as app makers and I can’t quite decide if a book app is a book, a movie, or a game. I don’t think we need all the bells and whistles to make a great story great.  It’s A Book, by Lane Smith seems to be making the point that the very qualities that we love about books do not need those features. Give children a great story they can get lost in –and let them use their own imagination to conjure up the sounds, sights and smells the story evokes.