One day I’ll be telling my great-grandchildren that I once read books — printed on paper!
They’ll roll their eyes as I describe the unimaginable chore of hefting a hardback tome, the danger of paper cuts, the grief of knowing a tree gave its life for my selfish vice.
I’ll tell them about entire buildings filled with books, thousands upon thousands lining shelves, piled in corners, stuffed into dusty bins. It will seem a mausoleum to a man named Carnegie.
My great-grandchildren will have seen a real book before — in a museum perhaps, maybe a Bible that Presidents once held to take the oath of office. They’ll laugh at the absurdity at it all, an e-book reader after all is so much handier. If the elected official is Muslim, the device can instantly download a Quran.
And when I die my great-grandchildren will rummage through my attic, giggling at the sheer antiquity of the boxes of books kept and cherished over a lifetime.
The Velveteen Rabbit — with a fuzzy illustration worn smooth by small fingers. The Little Prince, dog-eared pages yellowed and crumbling. An entire set of World Book Encyclopedias, circa 1980.
What a waste, they’ll murmur. What a waste.
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
The American Association of Handwriting Analysts is worried that cursive instruction is being written off in schools.
Iris Hatfield, who developed a program designed to revive cursive teaching, says that “handwriting represents a highly complex method of expression” that stimulates the brain by requiring memory, fine motor skills and visualization.
The irony is that her StartWrite program, available at www.NewAmericanCursive.com, helps teachers create handwriting lessons using a computer – the very thing that the association acknowledges has put a cramp in writing styles.
My seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher made the class practice our handwriting before she would start our science lesson for the day. Do you think all teachers should do that?
Tell me, should schools be sure cursive practice doesn’t get written off, or has the widespread use of technology eliminated the need to know it? Or, are other subjects just more important for teachers to spend time on? E-mail me your thoughts at email@example.com.
Wendy K. Kleinman
There are lots of good reasons to buy used textbooks — they’re cheaper and if the former user was a good student, the most important passages are already highlighted.
But that “used book smell” isn’t something I remember as a plus. Pizza-smudged fingerprints, dried splashes of coffee or worse. That’s what I remember.
Apparantly there are students who like the musty scents that come from some old books. At least that’s what e-book seller CafeScribe says. They commissioned a Zogby poll that found 43 percent of college students find smell — either new book smell or old — as the thing they most love about books as physical objects.
To meet that need, while peddling their own electronic products, CafeScribe says it will now send a scratch and sniff sticker with every purchase of an e-textbook. The scent: musty old book.
I guess that’s better than perfume de Bud Light or aroma Ramen noodles.
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
The First Book contest to win 50,000 books for Oklahoma children at risk for low literacy is almost over.
The state is in first place, but Texas, Louisiana and Nebraska are gaining.
Including today, there are only nine more days in the contest, so organizers ask that you vote every day through July 31. To vote, click on http://www2.firstbook.org/whatbook/index.php. You’ll be asked what book got you hooked on reading, and why. To select Oklahoma as the recipient of 50,000 books, pull it down from a drop-down menu.
According to literacy advocate First Book, which is sponsoring the giveaway, the majority of children from low-income families have no books in their homes or classrooms; as a result, direct access to books for these children is limited.
Middle-income children have a book-to-child ratio of 13 to 1, while there is one age-appropriate book per 300 children in low-income neighborhoods.
More than 80 percent of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income children have no age-appropriate books. Children from low-income families have been exposed to an average of 25 hours of one-on-one reading, compared to 1,000 to 1,700 hours for middle-class children.
No Child Left Behind scores from 2005 show 36 percent of all 4th-graders scored “below basic” in reading proficiency. Fifty-four percent of 4th-graders eligible for the school lunch program scored below basic in reading.
From 1992 to 2005, middle school students’ reading scores remained virtually unchanged.
Get out there and vote!!!
This weekend there will be lots of kids staying up all night — but not to make trouble. They’ll be tearing through the new Harry Potter novel.
What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down? Or the first book you read that you couldn’t put down?
If you’re like me, you may even dread getting to the end of some books — because that means the experience is over — so you ration the last few chapters. Or you find a new author you love and immediately go out and read everything that person ever wrote — the ultimate literary binge.
I remember my fourth-grade teacher reading us “Tuck Everlasting” over the course of several days. I couldn’t wait to get to school and hear the latest adventure of this immortal family. I recently reread that book, which was made into a movie a few years ago.
Tell me your faves at firstname.lastname@example.org. What should I buy this weekend, while I’m waiting for Potter?
Susan Simpson, Higher Education Writer
I can’t claim to be a huge Harry Potter fan — I don’t have anything against the franchise but have only seen one movie and haven’t read any of the books — but this looks really fun.
Omniplex Science Museum will celebrate the release of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” with an all-night event this evening.
Activities focused on revealing the science behind Harry Potter will be offered throughout the evening, with participants traveling to Cinemark Tinseltown for a showing of the movie.
After the film, participants return to Omniplex to spend the night in the museum. Previous Harry Potter films will be shown all night.
The event is designed for students in kindergarten through middle school and their parents or sponsors. Adults must accompany all children and groups.
Staff and some participants will be dressed in Harry Potter costumes.
Participants may play giant games of chess or Quidditch -– the popular Harry Potter game.
The New York Times has an interesting story today about the long-term impact of the Harry Potter series on school age reading habits.
It turns out that this mega-bestselling series hasn’t created permanent and widespread changes in behavior among young readers. Many kids would still rather play online games or watch television than tackle a 700-page novel.
Maybe that’s the problem — the Potter books are so lengthy that it’s hard for most of us — adults included — to stay focused.
My 9-year-old stepdaughter is a fan of the Junie B. Jones series of chapter books, which run less than 100 pages. They are fun to read, relate to her own life experiences and relatively inexpensive. Will she read the new Harry Potter? Maybe, though she’s more likely to ask someone to read it TO her — it is heavy after all.
I think you have to help each child develop their own, individual love of reading. Whether it’s the latest Bible-sized Harry Potter or a Batman comic book, reading is reading is reading. And if your kids see YOU reading a book, a magazine, a newspaper — then they are more likely to follow suit.
So turn off the television and take up a tome tonight! Unless the movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is playing on cable. I never got past page 400, so I need to see the ending.