The Problem with Summer Reading

So much yes to this!

The Problem With Summer Reading by Carolyn Ross (posted on The Millions, July 25, 2013)

I was a voracious reader on my own but I hated reading for school. It was never any fun when it was for school. I understand that reading is essential for childhood learning in almost every respect—but this is not the way to encourage kids to want to read.

Ironically, I never read any of the assigned books for my classes in junior & high school—but I’ve read every one of those books on my own just for fun (and because I think it’s important to be well read) since then. The mere act of assigning the book automatically made me not want to read it.

Over the years, I’ve spoken about this phenomenon with many people—friends, coworkers, classmates—and I’ve been struck by how many people had the exact same experience in school. Moreover—it tends to be the most well-read and best educated people who felt this most acutely.

When the people who love reading the most hate reading for school… that should tell us something.



I feel a bit guilty that I’ve allowed this blog to languish lately. Aside from a spate of posts the other week, my frequency has dropped noticeably over the past couple of months. It’s summer, so when I’m home I want to be outside and not sitting in front of my computer writing. And we’ve been really busy here in the Kansas City Public Library’s Digital Branch so I haven’t had the kind of time I normally do to write.

  • We just launched our newly upgraded online catalog.
  • We’ve launched – and are getting ready to launch – some new online content services and databases.
  • We’ve had our Summer Reading Program going on; we’re also setting up for a major Big Read program this fall and we’re planning to make the online components more robust than we’ve ever done.
  • We’re getting close to launching our revamped dedicated local history website, The Civil War on the Western Border, which has been in development for some time now. It’s going to offer some features that are truly unique for history websites.
  • We’ve begun the first steps toward planning a complete redesign & upgrade of the Library’s website and we’ve made some initial incremental changes already.

It’s exciting times!

Today is the 5th anniversary of my first date with Julie – next Tuesday is our 4th wedding anniversary. Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of me starting my employment at KCPL. July 1st is the day we left Chicago and arrived in KC to stay.

With all these big milestone anniversaries, I’m thinking a lot about all the decisions I made, and actions I took, that have brought me to where I am now. So I’m working on a couple of personal reflection posts to go up in the next week or two.

Stay tuned…

The Potential of Ebooks: A Modest Proposal

A colleague of mine recently recommended the book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It looks like a perfect creepy read for Halloween! I’m looking forward to it.

You can preview the first three chapters (plus the Prologue) through the publisher’s website. So, I clicked the link to the PDF and started scrolling through.

I was actually a bit disappointed. Not with the book, it’s really good (the Prologue and first chapter are, anyway!)

No, I was disappointed because the images don’t move. Reading it online, I found that I really wanted the images to be animated gifs.
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Towards a New Literary Culture, with a Note on Secret Identities

Inspired by this blog post, I started to think about my secret identities. I, too, tend to sing a lot – but only when no one is around to hear it. Since sometime around third grade, I began to see myself as a physicist at heart – or, more accurately, a cosmologist – and I still do. On the other hand, I also see myself as a philosopher. And an anthropologist.

I do realize that I’m none of those things. While I’ve read extensively in popular science titles, I’ve had no formal education in any hard sciences beyond high school. I did study quite a bit of philosophy in college and took a few classes in anthropology. But I’ve never done any of the real work that’s essential to actually being a cosmologist or philosopher or anthropologist. To claim that I am is an insult to those people who really are.

But this is about my secret identities. The ways in my heart-of-hearts that I’m the hero of the movie of my own life.
Continue reading “Towards a New Literary Culture, with a Note on Secret Identities”