9th Reading Forum

Reading is Good For Your Health response

Please post your response as a reply to this discussion.

Read my model response—it is meant to be a model for formatting and length.

Use the following prompts to guide your response:

What surprised you?

What confirmed or contradicted what you already though to be true?

Why is it important that we build empathy?

Provide a specific example of a book (or other story, such as a movie or a television show) that has helped shape how you think about an issue in your life.

In order to receive credit, your response must include the following:

1) At least one direct quotation from the article to provide evidence for a claim you are making, and

2) A direct reference to someone else's response, either in agreement or disagreement. This reference should mention the student (or teacher) by name and should be included in your own response.

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  • I am a reading teacher (you probably already know that), and one of my greatest frustrations is how much our current educational climate values reading only as standardized test score. Reading is not assessment. Reading is part of what it means to be human, and that includes building empathy for other humans who live different lives than ours. But reading can and should also help us understand our own lives. Jenn Christenson’s article confirms what I already believed to be true about reading.

    The metaphor used by Professor Keith Oatley, that of reading as a “flight simulator,” rings true to me. By reading books, I am able to safely enter worlds and lives, and am able, for a few hours, to try on other realities. This builds empathy. For instance, by reading The Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie, I understand better what life is like for a Native American today. Last year I read a book called Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. This book takes us inside the mind of a schizophrenic teen, and Shusterman wrote it, in part, to better understand his own son, who suffers from schizophrenia.

    On a personal level, I read A Monster Calls by Siobhan Dowd and Patrick Ness just after my father died of cancer. Reading about the boy’s struggle in the novel to deal with anger over his mother’s diagnosis and death helped me deal with my own anger about being helpless to ease my father’s pain. This is an example of the bibliotherapy the article describes.

    We live in this world together, and we have, I believe, a responsibility to understand the lives of other people. This is why fiction matters—I don’t personally know anyone who has schizophrenia, but I understand what it means a little better because I’ve read Challenger Deep. This makes me more empathetic toward not only those who have schizophrenia, but also those who live with someone who has schizophrenia. I had a student whose father was schizophrenic, and I wish I had read Challenger Deep before she was my student, as then I could have been a better teacher for her.
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