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  #51  
Old 01-16-2020, 11:43 PM
Joey P is online now
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
See what Grrr! and Joey P said above. With some people, the issue isn't difficulty reading individual words or phrases, but keeping track of something longer. The skills involved in reading a novel, or even a long story or article, are more than those involved in reading a street sign or a cereal box.

The part I wonder about is: If people like that made the effort to read more books, would they get better at it with practice?

If they had read more when they were young and their brains were still developing, would they be better at it now?
ETA TLDR: No.

No (for me) to both of these. It's not about practice, it's about being able to maintain focus for any length of time. It's simply the way my brain is wired. Occasionally a book will really grab my attention and I'll fly through it, but that's generally not the case. Uppers (ie amphetamines/adderall/ritalin) make an absolute world of difference in my life.

Funny thing about that. Back when I was a kid, before ADD/ADHD was 'a thing', I told my parents a few times that I felt like something was wrong. That I can't just sit down and read a book and studying was damn near impossible. At some point I learned (on my own) about ADD and told my mom about it and suggested that it might be my issues since I so many of the symptoms are similar to what I'm going through. Her reasoning for me not having it was that when I find something I like (ie video games, model building) I can spend, literally, hours without doing anything else. Her reasoning, not that I blame her, was that since I can concentrate on things like that for hours on end, it's not that I have ADD, it's that I don't like doing things I don't like doing. It should be noted at this point that my mom can be a bit of a martyr, she'll do things she doesn't enjoy seemingly because she doesn't enjoy doing them. I learned years later that one of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder is hyperfocus. That is, the ability to focus on a single task and ignoring the rest of the world. It turns out her reason for thinking I didn't have ADD was actually further proof I did.
In college I got myself a psych dr, got on adderall and it changed my life for the better.

While some people do grow out of it (and there's also adult onset ADD) and you can seek counseling to deal with it. In general, it's not something you get rid of by practice.
Think of it like a skill. Many people learn to play the piano or operate a metal lathe or take on acting, but for many people it's something that, no matter how much they practice, it's just not going to happen. They're simply not able to do it.
What I've found works best for me (besides pharmaceutical speed) is, instead of lying to myself, to accept what I can't do and work around it. For example, I know my short term memory is terrible. Instead of telling myself 'it's only 3 things, I can remember it', I make a list. I hate make a list that says 'flour, eggs, sugar', but if I don't, I'm going to make a second trip to the store.

Getting back to my daydreaming while reading comment. Another thing I find myself doing is not turning on the radio in the car. Driving (and, oddly, mowing the lawn) is my time to think/sort through my thoughts. I can spend an hour in the car just in my own head. It also drives people bonkers that I have to turn the radio off every time someone in the car is talking. I just can't concentrate on what they're saying with the background noise, though I think it bugs them more that I'll forget to turn it back on.


PS, these super long, rambling posts that I tend to make, especially early in the morning or late at night. Yeah, all part of it.

I think part of the problem with AD(H)D and how people that don't have it perceive it is that fact that it's had "Attention Deficit" in the title when that's just one small part of it. One small part that a lot of people read and think 'so, um, just pay attention'. The same way most of us will never understand what it's like to have depression or anorexia, a lot of people simply don't understand how the brain of someone with ADHD functions. It's not like yours.

An interesting comment I read not that long ago was from an adult with ADHD that started taking adderall and said 'wow, this is how you're supposed to think/feel/be'.

Last edited by Joey P; 01-16-2020 at 11:44 PM.
  #52  
Old 01-17-2020, 01:12 PM
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ETA TLDR: No.

No (for me) to both of these. It's not about practice, it's about being able to maintain focus for any length of time. It's simply the way my brain is wired. Occasionally a book will really grab my attention and I'll fly through it, but that's generally not the case. Uppers (ie amphetamines/adderall/ritalin) make an absolute world of difference in my life.
I have twin sons. We read the same books to both of them (at the same time), exposed them both to a home full of reading, made sure they did their homework, put them both in summer reading programs, etc.

One of them is going for his PhD. The other has ADHD. He prefers to work on tangible things. He reads, but short-form articles and stories, in maybe 15 minute bursts. Adderall has helped, but staying focused and concentrating through a long book will always be a struggle for him.
  #53  
Old 01-17-2020, 03:28 PM
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ETA TLDR: No.

No (for me) to both of these. It's not about practice, it's about being able to maintain focus for any length of time. It's simply the way my brain is wired. Occasionally a book will really grab my attention and I'll fly through it, but that's generally not the case. Uppers (ie amphetamines/adderall/ritalin) make an absolute world of difference in my life.
I'd say there's a difference between being able to read and comprehend (which you can clearly do), and having the attention span to be a recreational reader.

I mean, you can read street signs, bus schedules, tax forms, product labels, recipes and other relatively short stuff just fine.

What I was talking about is people who can apparently read to some level, but don't get better with practice- is it some kind of mental limitation? If so, does that count as a disability, or should it? I would guess someone without the mental horsepower to read at say...a 5th grade level is probably really deficient in most other activities of daily living that require any sort of actual thought. I mean how does someone like that do their taxes? Pay their bills? Know what they're buying at the store?
  #54  
Old 01-17-2020, 04:31 PM
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Principled Anti-Literacy! ;)


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I read during all of my breaks on the job. An electrician I was working with during a building remodel told me one lunch break that he thought reading was a waste of time. Later, he was complaining that he was having difficulty passing the written portion of his jpourneyman licensing test.
This reminds me of a phase in my state-worker life when I was part of a cadre of "automation coordinators". This was before the state finally created an IT department; we were all non-technical people picked because we were considered "good with computers".

We set up and maintained "dumb terminal/mainframe" systems in field offices. There was a statewide sub-group of guys who simply refused to read either the manuals or printed (simplified) instructions sent with the equipment.

It so happens that one of them was in my region. He strongly believed that the written materials were useless or worse, and that the only effective approach was to take the stuff out of the box and set it up by trial-and-error.

True, sometimes the written instructions were confusing or even wrong. Even I didn't get much out of the manuals-- there's a reason they tend to stay shrink-wrapped-- but the written instructions helped. I would end up feeding him bits of the instructions as if I'd "figured out" things when he got stuck.

His anti-literate approach seemed like a point of pride-- a sort of stubborn macho belief that a Real Man doesn't need no stinkin' written material to do his job.

Then again, he mentioned that he'd enrolled in community college in 1970, but did so poorly that he decided to enlist in the Army. He was intelligent enough to score well on civil service tests, and was familiar with the agency's extensive rules and regulations. But he had a "thing" about using written instructions when working on the computer equipment.

Last edited by Little BrÝther; 01-17-2020 at 04:34 PM. Reason: added a missing preposition
  #55  
Old 01-17-2020, 08:59 PM
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What I was talking about is people who can apparently read to some level, but don't get better with practice- is it some kind of mental limitation? If so, does that count as a disability, or should it?
ADHD, as Joey P and my son have experienced, is certainly a defined disability. My son was given access to reading tutors and received extra time to take written tests when he was in school.

Dyslexia comes in different degrees, from simply inverting or substituting letters in wrods (sic) to seeing a jumble of characters that make no sense. It's also treated as a disability. Imagine what a task it is to face an erntie paeg of wrods nad try to maek snese fo them. Particularly when the wodr looks different the next time you see it.
  #56  
Old 01-17-2020, 10:17 PM
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People can have trouble with reading for a lot of reasons - poor vocabulary, dyslexia, short attention span/ADD, whatever. If you have to work at reading, you're not likely to develop the habit of reading for pleasure. It's going to feel more like "having to study" than anything else.

My sister's first husband was an engineer, and a damned smart one. I was gobsmacked when I walked into their home and discovered they did not have a single book that wasn't related to engineering. He thought in terms of numbers, not words. My parents started sending my sister books as Christmas and birthday presents.
Trying to force a child to read before they are developmentally ready can cause the child to hate reading and seek to avoid the frustration they associate with it. But now politicians have it in their minds that education should start young and kids should be reading by the time they are 5. Some kids can read at that age, and others are learning to hate reading.

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Originally Posted by california jobcase View Post
Yep. I also did some polling and it seemed to confirm the problem is worse for boys, as the leisure reading materials available in schools K-8 are extremely biased towards girls' tastes (almost certainly due to the teachers being almost all women!).
Teachers do not choose the books available at schools. School boards choose from what is made available by publishers which are strongly influenced by the American Association of School Librarians.

Last edited by CelticKnot; 01-17-2020 at 10:18 PM.
  #57  
Old 01-17-2020, 11:51 PM
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What I was talking about is people who can apparently read to some level, but don't get better with practice- is it some kind of mental limitation? If so, does that count as a disability, or should it? I would guess someone without the mental horsepower to read at say...a 5th grade level is probably really deficient in most other activities of daily living that require any sort of actual thought. I mean how does someone like that do their taxes? Pay their bills? Know what they're buying at the store?
If you can only read at a 5th grade level, that would be very different than what I'm/we're talking about. I, and most other adults with ADHD (as the only thing going on) can read and comprehend anything, it's just that it's so much work to do so that's, at least in my case, I find very little enjoyment in it. When I say that I struggle to read a book, for example, it's not that I'm sounding out each word, it's that...well, you know how sometimes when you're driving you suddenly snap out of day dream and don't have any recollection of the past few minutes...it's like that. I can read and comprehend everything just find, it's that I'll be day dreaming the whole time. That is, I can read a few pages and, as I mentioned earlier, I couldn't tell you what I read. Reading isn't all that fun when I have to put so much effort it it.

It is technically considered a mental disorder, but most people with it wouldn't consider it one, at least not anymore than one would consider being an introvert a disorder (I know, it's not, I'm just making a point).

Your brain is wired differently than your co-worker's. Your co-worker's brain is wired differently than your next door neighbor's. This is just how my brain is wired. Luckily, between meds and lifestyle adjustments, it's pretty easy to manage so long as you can accept it and work with it instead of pretending like it's not an issue.

What you were talking about seems to be more related it illiteracy than ADHD. That would be a whole different discussion. The OP was asking more about people who can read, they just don't enjoy it.

WRT who illiterate people function in daily life, I couldn't tell you. I've only known (as far as I know) one person that couldn't read. I knew him for years before I even realized it. The place where he worked would give him a list of stuff to pick up and send him out to stores (mine, being one of them). He'd typically show me the list and say 'can you figure this out, I can't read this chicken scratch'. Once I understood what was going on, when I'd see him walk in with a list, I'd just say 'do you have a list, I can read his handwritting' (trying not to embarrass him). My WAG for how he'd got through life was a combination of having 50 years of practice hiding it as well as being able to read well enough, even if it was at a 10 year old level, to be able to do things like go shopping. Taxes, I'm guessing he paid to have them done.

As embarrassing as I know it would be, I always wished he, and other's like him, would suck it up and get some help. It would probably be one of the best things he could spend his money on considering the increase in his quality of life.
OTOH, he was 50ish years old, had (and still has) a steady job and appears to be getting along just fine. So who am I to judge?
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Old 01-18-2020, 04:20 AM
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....I've taught older adults to read, and back when I went through training they warned us: "Your students will never get lost in a book they way a lifetime reader can."

Saddest thing I've ever heard.

One old guy just wanted to be able to get to where he could read a recipe. He was beaming the day he brought us all homemade brownies.
One of my goals is (was?) to be able to read German books as comfortably as I do English books. My German teacher told me that would probably never come, as I didn't start learning German until I was 30.

Have to say though, the bit about the guy making brownies brought tears of happiness. Those of us who read as easily as we breathe have no idea how difficult it is for others.

My grandfather, born in 1910, finished high school and went to work as a machinist. When he got home in the evening he worked on the garden, or listened to the radio (later he watched television), played cards, talked with the family, friends, etc. And he read the newspaper. Every day.

But that was it. He never read a book for pleasure. Just wasn't his thing. For his retirement my dad bought him a book about some baseball player or team, I don't remember which. That hooked him. He loved his Reds and now he found out how to get more baseball enjoyment in a book. He started reading other books and probably read more in the 20 years after his retirement than he did before then.

I have a coworker who can spend hours watching a football (soccer) game, or even days watching a cricket match. Just that. Cannot read a book, even if its about one of his favorite subjects. He can't get into it. And I can't watch sports. Nope.

So I'll keep my books. And learning German.
  #59  
Old 01-18-2020, 06:13 AM
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As embarrassing as I know it would be, I always wished he, and other's like him, would suck it up and get some help. It would probably be one of the best things he could spend his money on considering the increase in his quality of life.
Have a manager where I work who once said that she wished employees who couldn't read would tell her that because (apparently) she's worked with enough over the years to have ways to work around that problem so they could be successful at what they did. You can get a lot done with pattern-matching (does this series of symbols match the ones on the paper I gave you?) or just organizing a work task. Or, if the person's memory is good, simply giving them instructions orally instead of in written form.

But that requires the illiterate person to be comfortable and feel safe in admitting there's a problem. Very often there's fear of losing their job.
  #60  
Old 01-18-2020, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Die Capacitrix View Post
But that was it. He never read a book for pleasure. Just wasn't his thing. For his retirement my dad bought him a book about some baseball player or team, I don't remember which. That hooked him. He loved his Reds and now he found out how to get more baseball enjoyment in a book. He started reading other books and probably read more in the 20 years after his retirement than he did before then.
I've heard of quite a few people who got turned on to reading by a particular book (or series or type of book), that essentially transformed them from non-readers to readers, though most of the examples I've heard of were kids when this happened.

So I conclude that some people who don't read do have the capacity to read and enjoy books, while others don't really have that capacity due to the way their brains are wired.

Last edited by Thudlow Boink; 01-18-2020 at 11:21 AM.
  #61  
Old 01-18-2020, 12:11 PM
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I took my then-fourteen-year-old brother to see From Russia With Love in '64, and on the way home he wouldn't shut up about how much he'd liked it; of course, I then had to tell him that the book was better. Gave him the book, and his non-reading self knocked it off in one sitting. He went from regarding books as his personal Kryptonite to being nearly his best friends. I'm sad that he died before I discovered, and could tell him about, the world's greatest living author.

A lawyer friend (law requires a LOT of reading) absolutely deplored and avoided recreational reading. A huge devourer of motion pictures, he liked Crichton's
Timeline
so much that he read the book, which remains the only piece of fiction in his home, more than fifty years after law school. He does read woodworking hobby mags, though.

Dan

Last edited by Dandan; 01-18-2020 at 12:13 PM. Reason: Please pardon the Italics screwup; meant to italicize the titles only.
  #62  
Old 01-18-2020, 12:46 PM
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I think the definition of "reading" has to be more clearly defined. I'm "reading" posts on this forum right now, and "read" and research when I link cites for what I post. Just because they're not physical or E-books, doesn't mean it's not "reading". Even texts require reading.

If someone told me they're going to read XX books this year, I'd applaud them for their effort, but challenge them with the statement that while they may gain more insight into that particular subject if it's a non-fiction book, I probably read more, and learned, retained and got more topical information by reading this and other forums. I used to read fiction for entertainment, but now choose to watch movies or TV for that.

I post a lot of nonsense here, but on other forums, most of what I post is facts based on research by reading, studying and personal experience.
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Old 01-18-2020, 12:48 PM
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My sister's first husband was an engineer, and a damned smart one. I was gobsmacked when I walked into their home and discovered they did not have a single book that wasn't related to engineering. He thought in terms of numbers, not words. My parents started sending my sister books as Christmas and birthday presents.
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Originally Posted by CelticKnot View Post
Trying to force a child to read before they are developmentally ready can cause the child to hate reading and seek to avoid the frustration they associate with it. But now politicians have it in their minds that education should start young and kids should be reading by the time they are 5. Some kids can read at that age, and others are learning to hate reading.
There's a huge difference between exposing a child to books and trying to force them to read. Giving children books is about letting them see that reading can be for fun. With younger children the expectation is that they'll look at the pictures. There's a fair number of books for younger children that have little or no text, like the Carl books. What little text there is isn't necessary to understand the story.
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Old 01-18-2020, 12:50 PM
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Have a manager where I work who once said that she wished employees who couldn't read would tell her that because (apparently) she's worked with enough over the years to have ways to work around that problem so they could be successful at what they did. You can get a lot done with pattern-matching (does this series of symbols match the ones on the paper I gave you?) or just organizing a work task. Or, if the person's memory is good, simply giving them instructions orally instead of in written form.

But that requires the illiterate person to be comfortable and feel safe in admitting there's a problem. Very often there's fear of losing their job.
The people that the person in my example worked with knew he couldn't read. They were treating him like shit. The reason they'd give him a written list of things to get was because they knew he wouldn't be able to read it.
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:27 PM
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I grew up in a household full of readers and tons of books around. Everyone had at least one book on the table next to them... except for me. I can read, I did well in school, I got my degree, and have had a very successful career for over 30 years. To me though reading anything longer than a quick note is a chore and not fun.

I read one word at a time, and mentally say that word to process it. I can't understand how others can just absorb a full sentence at once. My son was (medically) diagnosed with dyslexia and we were told that usually runs in the family. The psychiatrist asked several questions and I pretty much checked off all the boxes. Some have mentioned day dreaming while reading... this is my case too. When I read a few pages I will often realize that something made me think about something else and before I know it I have to go back and re-read the last few pages.

I probably haven't read 52 books just for fun in my entire life. I have bought many thinking they would be fun/interesting but most have had the first few chapters read before they were forgotten.

It hasn't hurt me... I've been successful... I've raised three great kids... life has treated me well... I just don't find reading to be fun.
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Old 01-18-2020, 02:20 PM
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I think the definition of "reading" has to be more clearly defined. I'm "reading" posts on this forum right now, and "read" and research when I link cites for what I post. Just because they're not physical or E-books, doesn't mean it's not "reading". Even texts require reading.

If someone told me they're going to read XX books this year, I'd applaud them for their effort, but challenge them with the statement that while they may gain more insight into that particular subject if it's a non-fiction book, I probably read more, and learned, retained and got more topical information by reading this and other forums. I used to read fiction for entertainment, but now choose to watch movies or TV for that.

I post a lot of nonsense here, but on other forums, most of what I post is facts based on research by reading, studying and personal experience.
Much as I love the Dope, what you get here is at best a pointer to information, with some highlights. Even the best poster can only give a snippet of data, otherwise the post would be TTTTL;DR.
Goes for everything. A two minute story on TV news is not going to inform you like a two page story in the Times. You'll learn some history from Hamilton, but not like reading Chernow's biography.
Now if you only care about topical information, a book is going to be out of date as soon as it's published. But still, in most cases you find more from following the links than from just reading the post. And that's a good thing.
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Old 01-18-2020, 02:34 PM
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I used to be annoyed by people posting 'cite?', but now I like it. I completely agree that following links is a great (and sometimes the only) way to fully comprehend what the poster is trying to convey. Also necessary, IMO, is that you have fully read (there's that word again) or at least heavily skim ALL the other posts in a thread before making your own post. Even if for nothing else than keeping from making a fool of yourself.
  #68  
Old 01-18-2020, 03:45 PM
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I usually read for pleasure, mostly sci-fi, although I am currently reading a detective story mainly for the local color as it takes place in my home town. But also I read or try to, physics books because I would really really like to understand quantum theory. Also a bit of history (I recommend Jill Lepore's "These Truths") and other non-fiction. But I have a friend who cannot read for pleasure. He reads a lot, but never for pleasure. He reads only "serious" books, the kind I would not enjoy. And much of what he reads is not in English. He reads French, German, and Swedish. Now when I was trying to learn French, I read--and enjoyed--a lot of Maigret stories, but he would never stoop to such things. He regards my reading as frivolous.

My brother would never read for pleasure through HS, which he barely graduated from before joining the Air Force. He spent a year in western Alaska where he discovered Sci-fi in the base library and was henceforth hooked on reading. When he got out, he went to college* on the GI bill and was a reader the rest of his life.

How did he get to college with nearly solid D's in HS? Well Penn State had a policy that if the sum of your HS quintiles and SAT quintiles did not exceed 6 you would be admitted, although not to the main campus. His HS quintile was 5 and SAT quintile was 1. Maybe there is a moral to this. Maybe if HS English teachers didn't insist on "serious" literature, less Silas Marner and more War of the Worlds or whatever, there would be more readers out there.
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Old 01-18-2020, 06:13 PM
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I'm sort of the opposite of the person mentioned in the OP. Who couldn't imagine reading except for the purpose of studying.

I can imagine studying for the purpose of having something to read, but it's not something I can do successfully. All my life I've been a skim reader, ignoring the spelling, word, grammar, context and meaning. By choice, I always start a book in the middle: I don't need to know all the characters mentioned in Ivanhoe (or in Buckaroo Banzai). And I've gradually come to feel a sense of loss when I compare myself to others, particularly one sister and brother. I had to work to get through university. Everybody thought I was smart: everybody has my whole life. I've never had any trouble understanding any of my subjects. But reading for learning is hard for me.

Last edited by Melbourne; 01-18-2020 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 01-19-2020, 05:59 PM
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I'm not sure if you are talking about Waverley here. If so, the problem for modern readers is not the number of characters (there are actually very few), but the historical background.
...
All this makes it difficult for a modern reader to follow what's happening in the novel without a good introduction giving the history of the period, and many footnotes.
True of any historical novel. You really need to read up on the history first, especially because the author sometimes takes some liberties with historical accuracy.

At least with Waverley you don't have to struggle with a lot of complicated names in another language. But that is not in itself an obstacle, you just go through the list of characters a few times until it all falls into place. Even Russian novels ... and War and Peace is actually very easy to read. Not so Dostoyevsky, he really is hard work.
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Old 01-19-2020, 07:44 PM
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I love reading books. Always have.

I travel by train to work. I get to the station about twenty minuets ahead of time and the journey itself is forty minutes. I want to pass that time but it's too early in the morning to stick earphones in and listen to music or a podcast. So I bring a book along and have sixty minutes reading. The return journey has more people around me so that's when I stick my earphones in and block out the noise of the crowd.

To me reading a book now is like exercising. I've allocated time for it and it's a second nature to me therefore skipping it is out of habit. And the books I read vary from crime fiction to science fiction to history to science to biography. Right now I have three books issued out from the library --- one is a story about a cyclist's eighty day circumnavigation journey, another is a fictional British Intelligence espionage thriller and the third is a guide to Egyptology. Three different subjects but fascinating to me.
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Old 01-19-2020, 08:46 PM
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There's a huge difference between exposing a child to books and trying to force them to read. Giving children books is about letting them see that reading can be for fun. With younger children the expectation is that they'll look at the pictures. There's a fair number of books for younger children that have little or no text, like the Carl books. What little text there is isn't necessary to understand the story.
I'm not talking about parents, but schools. Common Core made it a requirement for all children in Kindergarten to be able to read by the end of the year. That doesn't mean look at books, but read words. Some children, more often boys, are not developmentally able to do so by age 6.
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Old 01-19-2020, 10:48 PM
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Location: Deep Space
Posts: 46,960
Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
Also necessary, IMO, is that you have fully read (there's that word again) or at least heavily skim ALL the other posts in a thread before making your own post. Even if for nothing else than keeping from making a fool of yourself.
Especially when the post is a zombie, and you are ready to post something you posted two years ago. Happens to me all the time.
Plus, Dopers have the annoying habit of posting the great joke i was ready to post hours before I read the thread. Burns me up.
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