BBC News article in this weeks issue asks, “Do
you need to read books to be clever?” The emphasis in the article
is on the word book. Fewer people actually read books these days,
the article reports. They may read other texts, but they are less likely to
read a complete book than in the past. The question is, however, does it
really matter? Probably not.
Honor Wilson-Fletcher, project director for the National Year of Reading in the UK, explains that “because the cultural landscape is changing so much we need to recognise every variety of reading and acknowledge being able to read has never been so important. In other words, its not what you read, but how you read and that you read that matters.
While teachers usually realize this fact, do students? The literacy demands that students face today have changed greatly from those which students met even five or ten years ago. NCTE’s Professional Communities at Work Topical Resource Kit, Engaging Media-Savvy Students: Exploring Multimodal Literacies through Popular Culture and Technology explains:
Classrooms are rapidly moving beyond traditional notions of text. For years, teachers relied almost completely on books and other print texts—especially in terms of the texts that students were asked to compose. Because of the changes in technologies available to us today, however, texts in the classroom frequently include a much wider range of modalities—systems that people use to make meaning. In fact, a single text often engages more than one way of making meaning.Students interact with this wide range of texts using ever-expanding strategies for making meaning; yet they do not always recognize these many resources as legitimate texts or the act that they are doing as reading. By exploring the ways that they read and write in the classroom, students can extend their understanding of their own 21st century reading habits. An easy way to get started is to adapt the ReadWriteThink lesson Defining Literacy in a Digital World for your classroom. For an even quicker start, try my 21st Century Reading Habits Survey with students. After students complete the survey, tally the votes and invite discussion on what the findings mean about the way they read. Youre bound to learn more about students habits that can shape the activities that you complete in the classroom and students can explore why reading matters in the context of their own habits.
Today’s media-savvy students compose and read texts that include alphabetic- and character-based print, still images, video, and sound. They listen to podcasts, watch animations on the Internet, film their own videos, and compose visual arguments on paper and online. Reading and composing for these students includes such features as visual design, nonlinear organizational structures, and oral storytelling techniques.(“Framing Text” 3)