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Creating literary critics or lifelong readers?

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When was the last time someone used the word "love" when discussing literacy policy?

Rather than embrace reading as an imaginative, passionate, freedom-filled journey, much discussion about reading in the United States focuses on it as a solitary, competitive act, says Peter Smagorinsky, professor in the department of language and literacy education, in a recent guest column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Recalling a recent series of student panels he attended in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he is helping to develop a literacy education program, Smagorinsky notes that children there regard reading as an emotional experience. This deeper connection to stories, he argues, will do more for stoking a lifelong love of reading than any policy or set of standards can do.

"Reading to them was a critical means of developing into the type of person they hoped to become," he writes. "Most educational policymakers are shockingly dim on these roles of reading in the human experience."

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602