When it comes to reading, a good place to start is by acknowledging that reading is difficult and not natural, that we have to work hard to build the skills - all of us, teachers and students.
“We Were Never Meant To Read” - Maryanne Wolf
Neuroscience has taught us:
- Each reader needs to develop reading for themselves…. 2000 years of development of ideas and processes in 2000 days!
- Brain plasticity means we can develop the needed circuits for reading - which will differ depending on the language, writing system etc. (eg Chinese vs English)
- Our brains can do superficial and deep reading - both are necessary.
Readers who are growing up digital tend to skim, scan and skip as they seek immediacy and try to multi-task.
Our challenge as teachers of reading is to promote deep reading:
- Analogical Thinking and Inference
- Critical Analysis and Deliberation
- Insight and Epiphany
We need to strive for Bi-Literacy as a Goal: accept that there is a need for superficial skimming-type literacy in a world where we are overwhelmed with information, but also not lose the ability to read and think deeply.
So get a book, and share what you are reading with your various classes.
Why Read for Enjoyment?
While it is important to be able to read academic content, and deal with complex content, it is also important to read fiction, to read for enjoyment. So, get a book, and enjoy!
According to research, these are some socio-emotional benefits of reading fiction (original article here):
- Better relationships
- Improved leadership skills
- Increased collaboration skills
- Greater emotional intelligence
- A greater understanding of human character
Reading makes us better prepared for the world. Because our brains are wired to see what is essential, not what is real, reading fiction intervenes in our cognitive processes and builds personality.