In preparing this article, my mind has gone back to Maryanne Wolf’s book Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World. Writing in the form of letters, Prof. Wolf combines brain research and the science of reading to consider what it means to be literate in the 21 st century. Wolf delves into the characteristics of the proficient deep reading brain and emphasizes the power of curious learning. To be a deep reader, which is really the essence of critical thinking, the brain requires that we allocate time to the process of reading. In essence, the more we read, the better we get at reading, and the better we get at reading, the more we will read.

With all of this in mind, we recommend that children be actively encouraged to read books, both fiction and non-fiction. This is more important than ever given the ready access we have to digital information and the skimming processes that this involves. Summer is a wonderful time to slow down a bit and foster the kind of deep reading essential to becoming truly literate. Finding books that are accessible and have personal relevance will help with reading motivation if you find you have a reluctant reader.

Our website has a list of books per grade level, and a chat with a librarian or a clerk in a book store will also provide ideas about what books might appeal to your child. Encouraging prediction strategies – asking what the book might be about based on the title and back cover blurb helps children access prior knowledge which in turn will improve comprehension. Actively
discussing plots and characters also helps cement reading skills. Finally, debating the issues that are raised in the books will support strong critical thinking processes. These are just some fun, high-impact-low-stress ways to make deep reading a natural process.

Happy hunting for just the right books!

Teresa Marquis and the English department