CONTEXT & RATIONALE: READING IN THE WORLD TODAY

In a former age, it made sense to read into a text and to stop our reading at the book’s back cover. We wrote papers about a single text and submitted these papers for no larger audience than the teacher or professor who read our interpretation of the text. Once upon a time, it might have made sense for others to read for us–to show us what was then considered the best reading of a text.

But times have changed. Today we live in a digital world which allows for–and even requires–new ways of reading. Hypertext means that we can literally read through the text. We can connect texts, and we can use our readings of texts to reach large audiences. As readers, we are hyper-connected to other readers and writers.

Today we read the world. Through social media and other forms of media, we can see global politics playing out in real time. We are the readers of history, in the moment-to-moment of its occurrence. We are also contributors, who can use voice and agency to create impact.

Updated literacy skills are not only appropriate to the age in which we live, they are all essential to the preservation of our democracy, which is dependent on the abilities of citizens to read the world well–and to use their agency/voice to participate, including through voting.

We need to nurture readers who know how to read the world today. The old reading skills are not enough for a world in which social media has created pathways for individuals and governments to use the medium of social media–and tools of language, narrative, and image/video/audio–to manipulate readers.

We need readers who can be savvy to the world of storytelling in the world today, including in a world where stories are generated through social media channels as well as other media outlets. We need readers who are not duped by propaganda and who know how to take in information to create a full and complex reading, one that evolves through ongoing civil discourse and further reading.

Imaginative literature remains a rich source of material that offers infinite possibilities for exploration and discovery. Our approaches to imaginative literature–and how we help students read it–need to shift. This site will offer ideas about shifts that can be made.