Recently I picked up a copy of U.S. News & World Report 2011 Edition of Best Colleges. I like to have an updated copy in the office for students at the university I work at who are thinking of transferring elsewhere. Inside the edition I read “A Crash Course in College Preparedness” by Carol Frey. The article mentioned that many students coming to Universities are not prepared with adequate math and reading skills. She mentions a survey of college professors and employers that showed a major concern that many students are unable to read and comprehend difficult materials. Students don’t understand that reading will continue once they go into the workforce.
Young people and those of us not so young need to keep reading to build up our mental comprehension skills. One way to build up strong critical thinking skills of active thinking is through reading through books not just short columns on the internet. The discipline of reading is one of the biggest work tasks on the University campus. Recently I was doing a campus outreach and I asked a young student how her classes were going. She said there was too much reading in her History class..I hear so many complaints about reading from students and it goes back to that they did not have to read in High School. They just had to study a test cheat sheet the teacher created for them and the focus is the test not comprehending the big ideas in their textbooks.
This article spoke about the lack of students understanding the basics of reading, writing and math made me reflect back to the book I discussed last week, The Dumbest Generation. They dn’t have to be if the discipline of reading would be emphasized and reading would be seen as something positive and enjoyable. One person in the article recommended students should read 40 books in a year to help prepare for college level reading. That would mean much less time on Facebook and Youtube.
IT was mentioned as well students should check out must read lists to prepare as well. Here a sampling of some websites that go over important lists of books to help students prepare for college and they are good for those of us who are looking to stretch our minds as well.
http://pla.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/outstandingbooks/outstandingbooks.cfm This list is from the young adult library services association listing books by area of study.
http://universitiesandcolleges.org/walden-online/ This website shows 100 of the top classic books over time that well read people should read.
http://www.collegeboard.com/student/plan/boost-your-skills/23628.html This is a list of 101 recommended books from the College Board organization to help prepare a student’s mind and reading skills for college.
Many of the books on the lists are the Classics of literature. These books are considered classics as they have lasted the test of time. A book I have mentioned before, More Than Words looks at some of the classic authors such as Ray Bradbury, J. R. R. Tolkien, Has Christian Anderson and others through the eyes of Christian authors of today, Calvin Miller, Luci Shaw, Phillip Yancy, and Luci Shaw. These modern authors show how reading the classics shaped their lives and their own writing.
In the book I especially liked Calvin Miller’s Essay on Ray Bradbury. He shared four ways reading was important to him. Most importantly to Miller reading allows him to Celebrate Art. He is a writer and an artist so reading is a help in expanding his creativity and his artistic level. Reading helps improve the imagination as the picture is not spoon-fed like in our modern video age. This is possibly why creativity is very lacking in the young who are locked into tv watching. With reading of fiction the pictures in the mind are challenged to grow and expand.
He mentions his second reason for reading is to Broaden the Understanding. That is probably number one for me. Increasing my critical thinking and broadening my thoughts on issues and knowledge is very important to me. Reading is like exercise for the brain. The exercise adage of “use it or lose it” is true with reading. If we are not actively building our thought life and mental powers through reading we will lose out by having less effective thinking powers.
His third reason for reading is to Escape the Heaviness of the Moment. Escapist literature of the Fantasy of C. S. Lewis comes to mind. There is so much pressure and tension in life. A good book can lighten the day while still building up the thought processes. We should not escape all the time from life but reading fiction can be a helpful stress releaser in letting the mind go in imagining the story the author is telling.
Miller’s fourth reason to read is to Believe in a Better World – Goodness and Hope. Self improvement books help us to improve our lot in life and gain a better focus on our purpose on life. Through reading we improve our spiritual and mental life providing ideas on improving our lives to live more than OK to live the flourishing lives we were created to live.
Young people need to be encouraged to find their reasons for reading. Also the best way to start reading is to read things each person enjoys. But be open to new things as well. A student noticed I do not have many fiction books in my office library. That is one area of reading I need to add to my reading as over the years I have read mostly non-fiction. I believe if I read more fiction that will improve my creative side.
What is your most important reasons for reading? What kind of impact on your life have you felt from the last book you read?