Read Like a Reader

What is the history of reading? What are the postures of readers? When should we re-read? How does reading change if it’s silent, or aloud? In community, or alone? Performed, from a phone, on a page? Is power-scanning reading? Is doom-scrolling reading? Is proof-texting reading? Can one read emojis, crops, weather, faces, the times?

Reading is essential to education. Why is there so little discussion of how we read? Does reading delight you? Did it once? Where do you read best? At what time? With or without what things? What would make you a better reader?

Thanks to Jacob Keough-Mishler for his original music, sound design, and editing.

Listen to the podcast here.

Fr. Ambrose Criste is a graduate of Colorado College, a Rhodes Scholar, and a Norbertine Monk.

Ambrose and I spoke about lectio divina—holy reading, or what he called meditative and contemplative reading. This reading is “not about mileage,” he says, but about eating a text, embodying a text, declaiming or singing a text, resting in, returning to, delighting in, and living a text. It is an old practice and one that predates the idea of information.

We talked about re-reading, and how children read; his monastic life; the way he forms young monks in it; quieting one’s inner life; taking a passage with you into your day and its work; the power of memory; what happens when you hear or sing a text repeatedly for years; and the case for delight in reading.

Ambrose recommends The Rule of St. Augustine and William of Saint-Thierry’s 12th-century text, The Golden Epistle.

Listen to the podcast here.

How do we read images? How do images inform text? What is your “lexicon of images” and where does it come from?

This week we hear from Floyd Tunson, one of Colorado’s most important contemporary artists, who’s made a singular contribution in painting, drawing, mixed media, sculpture and installation over the past 50 years. I count myself among the lucky humans who were his students during his 30 years of teaching at Palmer High School and was glad to be able to thank him for his tremendous and life-giving work there.

We talked about what books have informed his work and the Denver library that lent them to him as a child; “Haitian Dreamboats,” and “Let’s Talk About Race,” racial facial recognition software; why he leaves many works untitled; how images inform concepts, and our image-saturated age; the roots of art; the tragic shooting death of one of his brothers and the art of another; how he balanced two careers, teaching and art; Miles Davis in the studio; pursuing an art career outside of New York and rejecting the cliché of the starving artist; ekphrastic poetry and his current collaboration with the poet Yusef Komunyakaa; his meditation practice; the artists he returns to again and again, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Willem de Kooning, Chuck Close and Pablo Picasso; and his magical home studio.

Tunson recommends The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, The Nickel Boys and The Famished Road.

Listen to the podcast here.

Why do some kids hear so many more words than other kids in the years before kindergarten?

What do you remember about reading as a child? Were there books around? Did you see adults reading, and when? Who read to you, and where? What stories did you love? What rhymes?

This week we hear from Nico Alvarado, a poet, writer, and founding elementary school principal.

In this episode, Nico and I discussed the science of reading; equity in early education and “the word gap;” letter-sound correspondence; rewinding tapes; Mother Goose; how if you know a little bit about, say, a kaffiyeh it’s easier to learn a lot about all sorts of things; systematic and explicit phonics instruction; why thriving public schools are essential for all of us; fluency in reading; and the timbre and grain of a parent’s voice.

Nico recommends the complete works of Rosemary Wells for children, and The Reading Mind by Daniel Willingham for adults.

Listen to the podcast here.

Becoming a reader is lifelong, inexhaustible work. How does one learn to read? And then to read again, and variously? What are the postures, and practices? How can we read a text as it asks to be read?

This week we hear from Avivah Polmer, a Colorado College graduate in Classics, and a Linguistic and Dyslexia specialist with over twenty-five years of experience in the field.

Over sounds of yard work and occasional traffic, Avivah and I discussed how our mouths work to make certain sounds; phonemes and phonics; stigma and anxiety; literacy difficulties and incarceration; orthography; dyslexic fonts; student support; sequencing sounds in a word; the case for repetition in learning; her family’s story of struggle and great success with dyslexia; and what all readers can learn from readers with dyslexia.

What a gift to learn from her expertise!

Avivah recommends the Lindamood-Bell Program.

Listen to the podcast here.

This week we hear from Jana Marguerite Bennett, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton. Much of Jana’s work and life is about gratuitous welcome. How good.

In this episode, Jana and I discussed: Hearing with the heart, and the hand, with “computer hearing aids,” and digital hearing aids; hearing as collaborative work; the politics of ASL; speech therapy; ear-driven writing; her work on women and disability, disability studies, disability in fiction, and disability theology; hospitality; mainstreaming, being a deaf person in a hearing world; her secret superpowers; and the great gift of silence.

Jana recommends The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the work of Rick Riordan.

Listen to the podcast here.

Today we hear from Peter Rooney, founder of Magnetic Reports, and indexer of The Mueller Report among many other works. Peter was charming company and what a beautiful voice!

Peter Rooney and I discussed the idea of the web as an index; how internet searches are “a crude tool;” why authors aren’t the best indexers of their own work; why indexers rely on nouns and try to forego adjectives; what it would be like to make a walkable, installation-sized index; how he reads, and lately what (La Peste).

Peter recommends The Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition (1910–11), which includes an entire index volume.

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Mia Alvarado, Thesis Writing Specialist

As part of her work with thesis writers and makers across the disciplines, Mia Alvarado offers reading courses and workshops. For more about her work as Thesis Writing Specialist, visit her page here.

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