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Creating literary critics or lifelong readers?

December 1, 2016


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."

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