How did you learn to love reading books?

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pink_trike
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by pink_trike »

chownah wrote: I'm assuming that if it is read for pleasure that it is fiction but then again this is not true 100%.
Certainly not true for me ... I've read around 40k books so far, all with great pleasure, and only around 100 of them have been (mostly classical) fiction.

(btw, classical literature wasn't intended for 'pleasure' ... it was intended as a vehicle for the transmission of knowledge, unlike nearly all modern fiction).

I understand the utilitarian benefit of children reading entertainment fiction and classic literature has its benefits, but I've never really understood the attraction of entertainment fiction for adults. However, I haven't owned a television for the past 40 years ... and it seems to me that in our society of perpetual entertainment and reality avoidance, that habitual television consumption encourages and conditions adults to indulge in and seek refuge in the fantasies that entertainment fiction provides.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
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binocular
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by binocular »

Kim OHara wrote:Interesting ... but it still doesn't mean that, as you said before, "The fact that they have to resort to such pathological imagery indicates that something unsavory is going on."
The spread of a disease is a good metaphor for the spread of any cultural trend, e.g. Pokemon. People pick it up from each other and pass it on, don't they?
There is plenty of fine native words in our language that mean 'encourage', 'inspire' and so on. But the reading-virus folks refuse to use them. Some people have actually complained to them about the inappropriateness of the disease imagery, but they wouldn't have it. Back in college, I carefully brought up the topic with one of my literature teachers who was also a promoter of reading. Her angry look and authoritative tone made it clear to me that this was not something to inquire about. In the end, it looks like "to infect people with the reading virus" is the reading promoters' academic career-making word coinage, and that this is why they stick to it no matter what.

While the metaphor or model of disease may in some way be adequate for the spread of a cultural trend, it still has a negative, pathological element to it. With all their fancy PhD's and all their literacy, surely the promoters of reading could have come up with a better word or phrase -- if they mean something positive with the phrase "to infect with the reading virus", that is.
Can you think of another metaphor for the same kind of transmission?
The question is whether the love of reading is really something that can be "transmitted". As many people who have been subject to "infection with the reading virus" can attest, it's not a strong virus at all and many people are immune to it.
“One man’s “magic” is another man’s engineering. “Supernatural” is a null word.”
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Kim OHara
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Kim OHara »

binocular wrote:
Kim OHara wrote:Interesting ... but it still doesn't mean that, as you said before, "The fact that they have to resort to such pathological imagery indicates that something unsavory is going on."
The spread of a disease is a good metaphor for the spread of any cultural trend, e.g. Pokemon. People pick it up from each other and pass it on, don't they?
There is plenty of fine native words in our language that mean 'encourage', 'inspire' and so on. But the reading-virus folks refuse to use them. Some people have actually complained to them about the inappropriateness of the disease imagery, but they wouldn't have it. Back in college, I carefully brought up the topic with one of my literature teachers who was also a promoter of reading. Her angry look and authoritative tone made it clear to me that this was not something to inquire about. In the end, it looks like "to infect people with the reading virus" is the reading promoters' academic career-making word coinage, and that this is why they stick to it no matter what.

While the metaphor or model of disease may in some way be adequate for the spread of a cultural trend, it still has a negative, pathological element to it.
That is a strong and legitimate criticism of the metaphor.
With all their fancy PhD's and all their literacy, surely the promoters of reading could have come up with a better word or phrase -- if they mean something positive with the phrase "to infect with the reading virus", that is.
Can you think of another metaphor for the same kind of transmission?
The question is whether the love of reading is really something that can be "transmitted".
It's a good question but it wasn't my question.
:popcorn:
As many people who have been subject to "infection with the reading virus" can attest, it's not a strong virus at all and many people are immune to it.
That's a fair comment, too.

As a teacher, my day job is to transmit my (cultural) knowledge to people (mostly young, but not all young) who don't have it. I know from long experience that students who don't see any value or use in what I teach, and don't develop any enthusiasm for it, will learn it poorly and forget it easily. In fact, enthusiasm by itself - that love, excitement and emotional connection - is almost enough to ensure that they will retain the knowledge and build on it. If I teach them to make and fly a kite, for instance, there's no 'value' or 'use' but the pleasure they get from it (if it flies!) is enough to make them remember.
In that sense, the 'reading virus' is indeed transmitted.

:reading:
Kim

binocular
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by binocular »

Ruud wrote:I think there is also something to say for the following: literate people read fiction, at least in the process of getting literate. I think hardly anyone literate can claim to never have read any fiction. And part of the author's point is that fiction leads to specific traits in critical and creative thinking. Especially during the developing stages (of both literacy and critical thinking) in children. Does he prove it? No. Does it sound plausible? To me, yes. Would it have to be proven before really taking it on? Definitely. Is that part of the purpose of the article? I do not think so.
Arguments to that effect have been made.
Perhaps the most popular author in this regard is Bruno Bettelheim with his book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (even though eventually, a lot of controversy was brought up around him). For the trend of his thinking, the introduction to this book is worth reading (available at Amazon preview).

Other, more reputable works on the topic are A Psychiatric Study of Myths and Fairy Tales; Their Origin, Meaning, and Usefulness and Psychology, Folklore, Creativity, and the Human Dilemma (see the preface) by Julius E. Heuscher.

- - -
pink_trike wrote:(btw, classical literature wasn't intended for 'pleasure' ... it was intended as a vehicle for the transmission of knowledge, unlike nearly all modern fiction).
Exactly. I appreciate classical literature, but I never read it for "pleasure." But now there is this tyranny of "reading for pleasure". One is reading a novel in which the protagonist is struggling with existential issues -- and one is supposed to "enjoy" that??

Literature has always been a vehicle for ideology (and I mean "ideology" in the broadest sense of the word); it seems inavoidable that this is so. But by now, trends have taken root in our culture that try to deny that.
I understand the utilitarian benefit of children reading entertainment fiction and classic literature has its benefits, but I've never really understood the attraction of entertainment fiction for adults. However, I haven't owned a television for the past 40 years ... and it seems to me that in our society of perpetual entertainment and reality avoidance, that habitual television consumption encourages and conditions adults to indulge in and seek refuge in the fantasies that entertainment fiction provides.
Fiction still deals with basic existential issues as it always has. I think the reason why, for example, the Harry Potter series or The Lord of the Rings series are so appealing to many people is because they talk about basic existential issues like the quest for happiness and meaning in life, friendship, courage, loyalty, perseverance, ingenuity.

It seems though that nowadays, even though a book or film of fiction may focus so much on those existential issues, the way these books and films are talked about in public is toned down into political correctness, so it seems more that those books and films are mainly for entertainment.
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denise
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by denise »

in the 1950s there were "little golden books" and comic books with....humor, color, adventure...looked forward to them ... :reading:

chownah
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by chownah »

Kim OHara wrote:
Can you think of another metaphor for the same kind of transmission?
binocular wrote:The question is whether the love of reading is really something that can be "transmitted".
It's a good question but it wasn't my question.
His question is questioning your question. I think he wants you to indicate if and why you think that the love of reading can be transmitted.....although I could be wrong. I'd like to hear you address this too.
chownah

chownah
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by chownah »

denise wrote:in the 1950s there were "little golden books" and comic books with....humor, color, adventure...looked forward to them ... :reading:
Wow! A blast from the past. I haven't thought about little golden books since I don't know when!
Image
Do you remember a publication called the My Weekly Reader and then when you got older there was Scholastic Magazine or something like that?
chownah

binocular
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by binocular »

chownah wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:
binocular wrote:The question is whether the love of reading is really something that can be "transmitted".
It's a good question but it wasn't my question.
His question is questioning your question. I think he wants you to indicate if and why you think that the love of reading can be transmitted.....although I could be wrong. I'd like to hear you address this too.
It's a key question. So far, from the examples in this thread, it appears that the people who love reading either do so somehow innately (without having ever actually learned it consciously or deliberately), or who have grown up in families where there already existed a love of reading.

Considerable amounts of money and man hours are being put into schools trying to get students to love reading. I yet have to see some evidence that love of reading can be learned (or: "transmitted") that way. Based on my own experience, I think that reading is such a complex activity and that it requires so many other skills that create the daily life framework necessary for reading to take place at all (from keeping your room tidy to making actionable work plans), that it just doesn't seem realistic that the school system can do much about it.

At school, they can teach the kids how to recognize the signs on the page and how to say them out loud, and they can teach them some grammar and some classical literary theory (such as what verse and rhyme are). But in the schools I went to, they never taught us any psychology of reading -- other than indirectly teaching us, "Don't think, don't feel, don't talk, just try to figure out what the teacher wants to hear, and then pretend you believe that." They never taught us how to make sense when we disgaree with the opinions of a literary character or the teacher or fellow students. They never taught us how to keep a healthy distance to what is written.


Edited for quote tags and correct attribution of quote.
Last edited by binocular on Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
“One man’s “magic” is another man’s engineering. “Supernatural” is a null word.”
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Justsit
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Justsit »

binocular wrote:At school, they can teach the kids how to recognize the signs on the page and how to say them out loud, and they can teach them some grammar and some classical literary theory (such as what verse and rhyme are). But in the schools I went to, they never taught us any psychology of reading -- other than indirectly teaching us, "Don't think, don't feel, don't talk, just try to figure out what the teacher wants to hear, and then pretend you believe that." They never taught us how to make sense when we disgaree with the opinions of a literary character or the teacher or fellow students. They never taught us how to keep a healthy distance to what is written.
The school you attended sounds very rigid and authoritarian. The one I attended was the opposite; although staffed by Catholic nuns, it was very open and forward-thinking and we were always encouraged to question. We had a sex education class (in 1967) and during the years of civil rights unrest, the nuns even invited a member of the Black Panthers to come and speak at an assembly. It must have been stifling for you to attend a school that was so closed-minded and didn't foster free thinking.

It may not be possible to foster "love" of reading, but having had reading as a significant part of my earliest memories, I think that early exposure is important. If children grow up seeing others read as part of their daily routine, they are more likely to see it as a "normal" endeavor and something pleasant, versus, say, children who grow up in a home where no one reads, and with nothing but computer and video games for recreation.

With regard to earlier discussion of fiction - I am reluctant to lump all fiction under the heading of "time-wasting" or "useless." Some fiction is intended as pure entertainment, such as romance novels, and may indeed be a waste of time. But other fiction exists that is written to convey stories of humankind's common experiences, what I would call "serious fiction."
Reading those stories can increase our knowledge, stimulate critical thinking, and teach positive values. That IMO is a worthwhile use of time.

chownah
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by chownah »

binocular wrote: ................
Considerable amounts of money and man hours are being put into schools trying to get students to love reading.
............
I think a more accurate observation is that considerable amounts of money and time are being put into schools trying to get students to learn to read to the level that they will be able to read critically. It is a difficult task because in the beginning the effort needed to learn is large and the reward is small. If you lecture a primary school student on the importance of reading you will just lose their attention.....if you provide them with something to read which captures their attention then you have made a good start. I think this is why the idea that "reading is fun" is used and why entertaining texts are used.

I think that some teachers (and posters here) do think that creating children who are addicted to reading is a good thing. I don't see it that way. I think that reading is a crucial skill in the modern world and if teaching it can be done better with entertaining material then teachers should use entertaining material.....but the real goal should be to teach children to become good readers to the level of being able to read critically. If someone develops the addiction of compulsive reading then that is a sad outcome but humans seem to be able to find compulsions very easily without being taught by anyone it seems.

By the way, reading critically is not really a function of reading per se but rather is a matter of developing discernment and rational-logical abilities I think. I doubt that teaching reading can impart these skills but it is important to note that it is essential that students be able to read with a certain degree of ease before they can learn to apply those skills to what they read because if all their efforts are needed in the reading they will have none left over for thinking about what has been read.
chownah

binocular
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by binocular »

chownah wrote:I think a more accurate observation is that considerable amounts of money and time are being put into schools trying to get students to learn to read to the level that they will be able to read critically.
Sure. Although I am skeptical about this trend. I doubt it is possible to actually teach critical thinking in a school, because a school is necessarily an authoritarian institution, and as such, matters of power prevail over everything else. What this means is that in practice, on some days, 2 plus 2 equals 4, and on some days, it equals 5, or 3, or Z. Unless, we, of course, include among critical thinking skills also the skills of navigating difficult social interactions with people in positions of power. Although as far as I know, textbooks on critical thinking don't do that.

I once almost wrote to the author of a book on critical thinking, asking her why on earth is she teaching those things, when in real life, critical thinking skills (at least as they are presented in textbooks) matter very little.
I think that some teachers (and posters here) do think that creating children who are addicted to reading is a good thing. I don't see it that way.
Completely agree. The ideas of "curling up with a good book" or reading before bed -- I am repelled by that.
I think that reading is a crucial skill in the modern world
Absolutely!
and if teaching it can be done better with entertaining material then teachers should use entertaining material.....but the real goal should be to teach children to become good readers to the level of being able to read critically.
Or to become good, compliant citizens who just happen to call themselves "critical thinkers"?

An example: In my native language, considered as one of the best works of literature is a novel about a Catholic priest from the 16th century who is tormented by thoughts of women and sex. In the book, he adopts a small girl whose mother died; this girl, when she grows up, is the object of his fantasies.
An important literary critic wrote that this girl was his niece -- and from this derives the point that not only was he a celibate Catholic priest thinking about sex and women, it was also incest, making the whole thing so much more outrageous.
But if you read the book, the girl is never said to be a blood relative of his, so there was no incest.
And yet for the last forty years or so, teachers and students alike are perpetuating this idea that she was his niece, and if you want to pass the test, you have to say that she was. Evidence be damned.


Obviously, I am quite frustrated about the matter. Such is samsara, I guess ...
“One man’s “magic” is another man’s engineering. “Supernatural” is a null word.”
- Robert Heinlein

binocular
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by binocular »

Justsit wrote:The school you attended sounds very rigid and authoritarian. The one I attended was the opposite; although staffed by Catholic nuns, it was very open and forward-thinking and we were always encouraged to question.
Then please help me understand something:

A school is necessarily an authoritarian institution. Any institution that has any relevance in the world, is necessarily authoritarian, ot has to be, in order to have relevance. The difference is only in how intensely and how openly authoritarian the institution is.
Being authoritarian means that the ultimate arbiter is power.

In an environment like that, how can there be any real critical thinking?

I still remember from 4th grade, when I was eleven: We had geography and were naming major cities in our country. The teacher wrote "Krajn" on the blackboard. The actual name of the town is "Kranj." I asked her why she wrote what she wrote, given that the map says "Kranj." She corrected it. But she never forgave me for that. I regretted bringing it up, and after that, made a point of never questioning what any teacher said, no matter how wrong or stupid it seemed. But the questioning never subsided in my mind, and I have never found a way to make sense of it.

Teachers want us to think they are omiscient or at least always right, they want us to trust them unquestioningly. And if we don't trust them like that, we get punished -- with bad grades, written reprimands that go on our records, and sometimes even physically. But when they betray that trust in some way, what does one do then? How does one make sense of that? How does one continue to trust them afterwards?
It must have been stifling for you to attend a school that was so closed-minded and didn't foster free thinking.
I don't see it that way. I hated going to school (and "hated" is an understatement), but I thought that life simply sucks, and that this is just how it is, that this is as good as it gets. That the whole point was to somehow push oneself to the point where one is at peace with the horrors of life, and that those who can't, are weaklings.


Some fiction is intended as pure entertainment, such as romance novels, and may indeed be a waste of time.
I think romance novels are actually very educational, in the sense that they can make/help the reader to think about romance more in depth, instead of taking it for granted as being the highest thing there is in life.
“One man’s “magic” is another man’s engineering. “Supernatural” is a null word.”
- Robert Heinlein

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Sam Vara
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote: Teachers want us to think they are omiscient or at least always right, they want us to trust them unquestioningly. And if we don't trust them like that, we get punished -- with bad grades, written reprimands that go on our records, and sometimes even physically. But when they betray that trust in some way, what does one do then? How does one make sense of that? How does one continue to trust them afterwards?
Some teachers might, but not all. I've known many that didn't.

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Kim OHara
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Kim OHara »

chownah wrote:
binocular wrote: ................
Considerable amounts of money and man hours are being put into schools trying to get students to love reading.
............
I think a more accurate observation is that considerable amounts of money and time are being put into schools trying to get students to learn to read to the level that they will be able to read critically. It is a difficult task because in the beginning the effort needed to learn is large and the reward is small. If you lecture a primary school student on the importance of reading you will just lose their attention.....if you provide them with something to read which captures their attention then you have made a good start. I think this is why the idea that "reading is fun" is used and why entertaining texts are used.

... I think that reading is a crucial skill in the modern world and if teaching it can be done better with entertaining material then teachers should use entertaining material.....but the real goal should be to teach children to become good readers to the level of being able to read critically. ...

By the way, reading critically is not really a function of reading per se but rather is a matter of developing discernment and rational-logical abilities I think. I doubt that teaching reading can impart these skills but it is important to note that it is essential that students be able to read with a certain degree of ease before they can learn to apply those skills to what they read because if all their efforts are needed in the reading they will have none left over for thinking about what has been read.
chownah
:goodpost:
I agree completely with all the above.
If someone develops the addiction of compulsive reading then that is a sad outcome but humans seem to be able to find compulsions very easily without being taught by anyone it seems.
:strawman:
I think that some teachers (and posters here) do think that creating children who are addicted to reading is a good thing. I don't see it that way.
:strawman:
The "reading virus" and "addiction" were only ever metaphors. They seem to be obscuring the facts, so can we forget them? Please?

:namaste:
Kim

Ruud
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Ruud »

binocular wrote:At school, they can teach the kids how to recognize the signs on the page and how to say them out loud, and they can teach them some grammar and some classical literary theory (such as what verse and rhyme are). But in the schools I went to, they never taught us any psychology of reading -- other than indirectly teaching us, "Don't think, don't feel, don't talk, just try to figure out what the teacher wants to hear, and then pretend you believe that." They never taught us how to make sense when we disgaree with the opinions of a literary character or the teacher or fellow students. They never taught us how to keep a healthy distance to what is written
And I think they did good not teaching you any 'psychology' or 'science' of reading. To me there are two modes of reading: for enjoyment, and for critical analysis. I feel that the first one should be emphasized early (say in primary school) and only start with the critical reading later (middle school/high school). I feel it a pity you had such a negative experience in school, feeling so suppressed in what you can think and express. Where I am from (the Netherlands) that is not the case at all. As long as your view is relevant (I.e. Not completely unrelated) you always can get a chance to express it. This naturally exposes one to other views, teaches analyzing arguments and critical thinking.

I do not think everyone will enjoy reading equally much. The environment in which you grow up and the personality is indeed very important. But I do feel that for everyone, also the ones not greatly enjoying reading, a genre or style of book can be found that is most enjoyable to them. I think that is what the 'transmitting' the joy of reading is about: finding what fits you. But to do that it is very important to take the book as it is, to feel it, experience it. Teaching how to read critically, over-analyzing everything, especially too early, kills that very effectively. And that is a big shame. If you read LotR and you feel that constantly you have to take distance to see what's the hidden meaning, or have to check you that just destroys a good story.

And then, as chownah already expressed very well above, from there one can start learning critical reading.

Thank you, by the way, for your links, those look interesting. And with a 1.5 year old also quite relevant :)
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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