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Any Child Can Read Better$
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Harvey S. Wiener

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195102185

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195102185.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2021

The Reading-Writing Connection

The Reading-Writing Connection

(p.130) 7 The Reading-Writing Connection
Any Child Can Read Better

Harvey S. Wiener

Oxford University Press

In 1940, the then-chairman of the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Mortimer J. Adler, wrote an article called "How to Mark a Book" for the Saturday Review of Literature. Adler asserted for his adult readers what must sound clearly like heresy to parents of young children. Owning a book fully, he said in absolutely timeless advice, "comes only when you have made it part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it." I can see you cringing. Write in this expensive, lovely book I bought Leslie at birthday time? Nothing doing. Adler pointed out that our worship of books on this level—physical objects to be revered and respected—is misguided. We love the thing, "the craft of the printer," as opposed to what it contains, "the genius of the author." Owning a book and simply placing it on the shelf means only that we have the book in our library. Truly owning a book means that we have it in our souls. Now of course we don't write in books we don't own. Books we borrow from friends or from the library or from the school classroom must stay intact for others to use later on. But your child can learn that lesson at any age—a lesson I'm sure that you try to teach regularly. Yet, you must temper your proscription. "Don't write in this book" you want to reserve for books your child does not own. "Please write in this book!" should be your plea for any volume in your youngster's home library. Why? As Adler wisely pointed out more than fifty years ago, reading a book should be a conversation between the reader and the writer. Good readers question what they find in books; they challenge what they read; and marking up a book is a way of recording the dialogue between the parties. You really do know this, don't, you, from your own days in school when you attacked review books or texts themselves or photocopies of magazine articles with much underlining, marginal comments, or highlighting.

Keywords:   Inference, Marking up books, Reading journal, Writing to Read program

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