Readersforum's Blog

January 27, 2014

Reading Books Is Fundamental

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:23 am
Charles M. Blow

Charles M. Blow

The first thing I can remember buying for myself, aside from candy, of course, was not a toy. It was a book.

It was a religious picture book about Job from the Bible, bought at Kmart.

It was on one of the rare occasions when my mother had enough money to give my brothers and me each a few dollars so that we could buy whatever we wanted.

We all made a beeline for the toy aisle, but that path led through the section of greeting cards and books. As I raced past the children’s books, they stopped me. Books to me were things most special. Magical. Ideas eternalized.

Books were the things my brothers brought home from school before I was old enough to attend, the things that engrossed them late into the night as they did their homework. They were the things my mother brought home from her evening classes, which she attended after work, to earn her degree and teaching certificate.

Books, to me, were powerful and transformational.

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May 8, 2013

E-Books and Democracy


WRESTLING with my newspaper on the subway recently, I noticed the woman next to me reading a book on her smartphone. “That has to hurt your eyes,” I commented.  Not missing a beat, she replied, in true New York style, “My font is bigger than yours.” She was right.

The information revolution raises profound questions about the future of books, reading and libraries. While publishers have been nimble about marketing e-books to consumers, until very recently they’ve been mostly unwilling to sell e-books to libraries to lend, fearful that doing so would hurt their business, which is under considerable pressure.

Negotiations between the nation’s libraries and the Big Six publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House and Simon & Schuster, which publish roughly two-thirds of the books in America — have gone in fits and starts. Today Hachette, which had been a holdout, is joining the others in announcing that it will make e-books available to public libraries. This is a big step, as it represents, for the first time, a consensus among the Big Six, at least in principle, that their e-books should be made available to library users.

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March 14, 2013

SA kids keen to read, but can’t afford to

South African children are keen readers, they just cannot afford books, a survey has found.

“It was found that most young South Africans enjoy reading, and want to read more, but are held back by the cost and availability of books,” said market research company Pondering Panda’s spokeswoman Shirley Wakefield.

She said the government should support the youth by making it easier to access books.

“Two things it can do right now are expand the library system, and make books VAT-exempt, so that they become more affordable for young people… 88% [of people] said they would definitely buy more books if they cost less.”

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October 19, 2012

Is Reading Sexy?

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:16 am

“Nothing about sex is cerebral…at least, none of the good parts are.”–Chuck Klosterman

By John Jarzemsky

People have a tendency to predict the demise of art forms, in some cases not long after their inception. Reading and literature have certainly been no exception, and those who would consider themselves gatekeepers of culture have tried multiple paths towards preservation, often presented in the form of “reading awareness.” Awareness campaigns have a long and controversial track record, with many being maligned as redundant and a needless waste of money, but for better or for worse, they’ve been with us for a long time, and probably always will be.

And what better way to make someone aware of something than by tying it to sex?

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September 12, 2012

Charlie Higson: why would kids read books if their parents never do?

Children cannot be blamed for preferring computer games to books if they never see their parents engrossed in a novel, according to author Charlie Higson.

 By Anita Singh

Charlie Higson, writer of the Young Bond spy series and The Enemy zombie saga, says parents should look at their own reading habits if their offspring rarely pick up a book.

His suggestion follows a National Literacy Trust surveywhich found that fewer children than ever are reading in their spare time, with one in six admitting they were too embarrassed to read in front of friends for fear of being labelled a “geek”.

Higson said he was taking the findings with a pinch of salt because “surveys are surveys and kids are kids, and they don’t always tell the truth”.

But he advised parents: “The way to deal with it is not to worry about it but to take a gentle approach and read a lot yourself.

“It’s all, ‘Ooh, kids don’t read’ but how many adults still read in a way that they used to? Adults’ lives are full of other things.

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January 12, 2012

Required Reading: The Pros and Cons

Filed under: Children's books — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:39 am

  By John Jarzemsky

I didn’t know how to read until I was seven years old.

This is a fact that sticks out no matter how far removed I am, and one that I’ve carried with me into adulthood. I can distinctly remember being in kindergarten, around 5 or 6, and feeling the miserable isolation that comes with not being able to read Hop On Pop out loud.  I can’t distinctly remember if there was mockery or teasing involved, but it seems likely.

Early into 1st grade, however, everything suddenly clicked. What had seemed impossible now came as easily as breathing. It was so easy, in fact, that I soon surpassed my peers in terms of reading comprehension and began to receive private tutoring sessions in lieu of English classes. Over the next few years, I had changed from the kid who couldn’t read to the kid who got in trouble with teachers for reading on the playground (yes, this actually happened). I was completely happy with my newfound status as a voracious reader (and I wish I had kept up that volume into present day), but it was only a matter of time before a grim specter reared its ugly head.

Required reading. What a terrible term it was. It wasn’t that I was being forced to read: I could get behind that. The resentment I felt was tied to the fact that I loved reading, but teachers and administrators and whoever else had all conspired against me to keep the books I wanted to consume out of my hands. This was little more than a minor annoyance through most of elementary, middle, and junior high school, since the required reading assigned to these grade levels was usually on the lighter side of 100 pages. I would breeze through these in a day, then go back to my own private stacks.

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August 30, 2011

Phonics and Reading Lists Aren’t Enough to Raise Literacy Standards

By Bansi Kara

A few months ago, I was outraged, as were many teachers who work in secondary education, to read the Evening Standard splash on literacy statistics. Today, I read the National Literacy Trust’s annual survey on reading, entitled ‘Setting the Baseline’ and was pleased to see that someone is actually taking into account views of young people on their understanding of reading today – how they feel about it, how often they do it and what they actually like reading.

As expected, the list of items that students claimed to like reading differs somewhat from the list Michael Gove recommended in March earlier this year after a visit to the US charter schools run by KIPP. I have visited KIPP schools in New York and admire their dedication to the raising of literacy standards amongst the most deprived students in the state. What Michael Gove may have missed about KIPP is that their whole approach to reading is different to ours. Reading in a KIPP school is central to everything – classrooms are decorated using themes from books, words are displayed everywhere, there are sofas for children to sit on and read quietly and until students reach the required reading age, the curriculum is solely designed around Literacy, Mathematics, Science and Social Sciences (what we would term Humanities). Social Sciences lessons are literacy lessons in disguise – they teach reading skills through History, Geography and Religious Education. So, with all this in mind, how did Michael Gove come back from that visit to the KIPP schools and decide that a reading list and synthetic phonics were the biggest ‘take aways’ from that experience? more

December 22, 2010

E-Book Invasion to Eliminate Brick and Mortar Bookstores ?

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 1:23 pm

A story about Barnes & Noble and similar large book store chains feeling the heat due to lagging sales and the increased popularity of online competitors such as and e-book sales caught my attention a few days ago.

Six years ago while I was attending a writer’s conference luncheon, an industry expert announced to us that smaller chains and independent bookstores were in danger of extinction, being replaced by the mega-bookstores. “If you can’t imagine your book finding a place on the shelf in Barnes & Noble, you haven’t got a chance for success in this business,” she announced to a room full of hundreds of aspiring and published authors.

For more than a decade the publishing industry has been changing dramatically, printing fewer titles, tightening markets, taking fewer chances on new concepts or unknown authors. We expected all those changes with the merging of many of the largest publishers into even larger media groups. I couldn’t imagine e-books replacing printed books then, or ever people preferring to browse websites for books over browsing through a bookstore.

Barnes & Noble and similar large bookstore chains that I once disdained for their influence in publishing industry are now sort of a guilty pleasure of mine….read more

December 20, 2010

British Library project to map pronunciation seeks children’s book readers from around the world

The British Library has embarked on a project to map accents and pronunciation of words by English-speakers worldwide, as part of its Evolving English exhibit. To that end, they have asked any English-speaker world-wide to record themselves reading aloud the children’s book Mr. Tickle for the benefit of their collection…read more

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