Do our reading lists determine how we process language?

It appears the language we’re immersed in, through spoken as well as written language artifacts, changes the way we process language as well as changes the way we behave.

This might not come as a surprise to most educators, but I wonder, does this finding lend some credence to concerned parents and community members regarding subject matter and language influencing young minds? I am NOT advocating for banning books, nor censoring books, but I am curious as to how this new study might impact arguments for more control in library and classroom reading materials. Does this study foreshadow an age of parental taunts like “You are what you read..”?

10 quick thoughts on mobile phones in schools

Definitely not reposted to stand against my fellow educators, this article makes arguments that I have held for at least a decade as smartphones have become more ubiquitous in the young student’s “tool belt.” Of course, I also have strong feelings against children under the age of 14 having their own smartphones, but that is an argument for another post.

E-BOOKS – Make Beliefs Comix

FREE E-BOOKS – DOWNLOAD, READ, WRITE & DRAW! FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitterYouTube Dear Reader, On this page you will find free e-books I have written as part of my mission to help people of all ages discover their writers’ voices and express the important things in their lives . You can do so by creating comic strips at […]

Source: E-BOOKS – Make Beliefs Comix

What a fantastic resource for teachers in elementary and middle grades!  Make Belief Comix offers an array of structured books in PDF to help guide students in expressing their ideas and writing.  Some eBook templates also encourage drawing as a form of expressing ideas.  The pages are paced so that even the more reluctant writers can feel accomplished.

Books | The Great American Read | PBS

Source: Books | The Great American Read | PBS

While I find promotion of reading through a television series a little odd, I love the idea of the Great American Read.  The top 100 novels selected by national survey is broad in scope, but I do question some of the titles that made it to the top 100, feeling this is more a projection of a title’s contemporary popularity rather than the voters’ mindful reflection of best loved novels that might have been read over a lifetime.  The list, however, is otherwise alluring especially to those who wish to be better readers or more prolific readers. has joined in the fun with a matching list providing a user-friendly way to managing your progress, especially in conjunction with their yearly reading challenge. hosts a site wide reading challenge every year beginning in January, allowing participants to elect how many books they would like to read over the course of a year, and track their reading progress along the way.  I’ve found this to be a fantastic way to challenge myself to read more throughout the year, and with each successive year.  Additionally, goodreads members have produced hundreds of themed lists, including the avid reader’s answer to the Great American Read list: The Great American Read – What they missed.


An early review of Ernest Hemingway’s “In Our Time”

via Ernest Hemingway’s “In Our Time” | The New Yorker

This review was published in 1927, after Hemingway’s great literary success “The Sun Also Rises.”  There are a few things I love about reviews that are more contemporary to great classics.  The first is the quality of writing of the review itself.  Often the review is written by a now familiar author, and the review is a fabulous peek at that author’s style and growth as a writer.  If the reviewer is not a hence famous author, the writing style is still instructive in the quality of publication meant for common consumption.  The second reason I love early reviews of classics is it often reveals the spirit of the day that the work was written, and provides subtle historical perspectives that current analysis might miss.  And finally, I love to see how ideas grow over time, revealing the ways that people shape literature as much as literature shapes people.

Outside of one’s own curiosity, this early review might serve as a great side lesson in comparative literature, literary analysis, journalistic writing, or to bolster a unit on Hemingway, short stories, or even obscure writings of famous authors.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – The Atlantic

“The results [of research] could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.”

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

Source: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – The Atlantic

Marilynne Robinson on Finding the Right Word – The New York Times

Think how much any individual mind, any brain, is enlarged by what we can know through books and through literature — places, people, ideas that we would never otherwise experience, things much larger than anyone could contain in his or her own person.

One of the ideas that changed my outlook on life actually speaks more to the past.  Our vast human history, where we distinguished ourselves from other species by recording information.  This, of course, seems very plain but the broader idea is profound.  In the act of recording information, we acknowledge that we are mortal and that after our deaths others live who may benefit from the knowledge gained over the course of our lives.

Most of us are not the creators of those things, but we possess ourselves of them — or they possess us of them. And each successive work of literature expands the possibilities of our language, deepening our expressive capacity.

Each new record of human ingenuity is built upon the foundation of the first pieces of recorded information.  Each new generation, exposed to the depth and vastness of the product of their fore fathers, grows and expands to ultimately benefit those to come after.  It is this continuity through human history that we owe all our successes as a species.

In almost every major literature there are works that make you love being human, and make you love and revere the humanity of other people.

It is how humanity resonates through our writing… or our art… or our music… or our architecture and etc, that we find meaning for ourselves, shaping our lives, compelling us to contribute and thus impacting those who have yet to be born.

Here are some supporting resources to enhance your experience of this lovely article:

The God Who Loves You by Carl Dennis | Poetry Foundation

It must be troubling for the god who loves you…

Caring for other human beings has a transforming effect on a person’s perspective.  Being a parent – and especially a parent of teens – forces one to accept that, although we can see the outcome as clear as day, our child’s free-will oft times supersedes our authority.

Here the author seems to personify God with similar authority of a parent: watchful and omniscient, prone to anxiety and disappointment, vigilant and hopeful, and yet still powerless to the free-will of His creation.  This is a stunning poem with a clear voice of the author, yet infinite so to touch all people in moments of reflection and self-assessment.

Source: The God Who Loves You by Carl Dennis | Poetry Foundation

My Drowning (And Other Inconveniences) | Outside Online

After a legendary career in adventure writing, Tim Cahill thought his story was over. Thrown from a raft in the Grand Canyon’s Lava Falls, he was trapped underwater and out of air. When he finally reached land, his heart stopped for several minutes. Then he came back—and decided to risk Lava again.

This article is really about “story” and its connection to human experience, to the human condition.  An excellent reflection on the importance of story, of one’s own story, of our family’s story, of history, and of the story of man.  Especially useful for beginning writers, or students exploring their own lives and its meaning.  It is not a complete exploration, but it is certainly a starting point in the discussion.

Source: My Drowning (And Other Inconveniences) | Outside Online