Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Technologies in Reading

OK, we are all confirmed read-a-holics, right? So the past few weeks have been interestingly loaded with brushes with new technologies in reading...

Kindle: My brother recently purchased this gadget, as he travels a TON and is also an avid reader. It got a bit cumbersome to lug books, and often difficult to keep something new with him. I haven't heard much from him on how this works, but I am curious. Ann Althouse, on the other hand, doesn't approve at all! Have any of you tried this?

Online Reading Tests: M's school rolled out a new standardized test last year - all online. As I am a web pusher, one would think I would be fond of this. Well, I'm not. After M came home from the test once, I asked how it was. "Mom, we had to read on the computer. How are we supposed to do that??" was the answer... I had the chance to see the sample test, then asked to see the real test. Not impressed. I do web reading usability/accessibilty testing for a living - and these screens would've failed big time. I have talked to the test developing company and the district test coordinator. They assure me the new version of the test for next year is better, but won't show me sample screen shots! grrrr. So, in the meantime, I am not putting much weight into the reading score for this test. What do you all think a:bout testing reading skills online?

Small Victory: As many of you know, M has a minor reading disability that makes it uncomfortable for her to read. We just got an official, on paper, accomodation that she can use audio books/materials in place of written! Our biggest ally is M's current teacher whose daughter has a visual impairment. She's been a huge help.

Phew.. that was long!

Friday, May 23, 2008

1001 Books

In today's New York Times, William Grimes writes about a new book, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. In short, he points out that any such list is flawed by the the compiler's biases, but it's irresistible to go through and see how you've done. Without putting my hands on the book, though, I gather that I would do very poorly; I've never heard of some of the authors he mentions (Maria Edgeworth, Henry WIlliamson, Barry Hines) and haven't read anything by the ones I have heard of (Thackeray, Nabokov, Don DeLillo). I'm not sure what I'd put on my list; as we discussed for our top books of 2008, some of our "bests" are not necessarily the best literature, but the books that stay lurking in our minds long after we're done reading them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prequel Mania

Since I know some of you are fans, I just thought I'd mention Once Upon a Time in the North the Pullman prequel to the Compass stories. It's sort of an adventure with our wily balloonist, Lee Scoresby and Iorek, a certain armoured bear. J. is enjoying it, I may not get to it this go-round from the library!

Then, I heard about Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson. It seems to be getting ok reviews, and has been issued/written in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Anne Books. I haven't reserved it yet at the library (a surprise there!), because I'm a bit ambivalent about reading more in depth about Anne's hard luck life before she got off the train and met Matthew.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


One of my two favorite professors types alluded to their book list and the coming summer. Now, I know you're still busy, but does your load lighten enough to regain that feeling anticipation about summer that we had as kids?

My mom would let me check out as many books as I could carry, although looking back, I don't know why she never gave me a tote or something. I could do my yearly re-reads of favorite series and discover new books in the stacks. I remember the summer my youth Fretz Park Library card was stamped "adult collection", so I could check out books from anywhere in the library.