Reader, Come Home:
The Reading Brain in a Digital World
This event includes a book signing
August 8, 2018
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes MARYANNE WOLF—acclaimed researcher, professor, and author of Proust and the Squid—for a discussion of her latest book, Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World.
About Reader, Come Home
A decade ago, Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid revealed what we know about how the brain learns to read and how reading changes the way we think and feel. Since then, the ways we process written language have changed dramatically with many concerned about both their own changes and that of children. New research on the reading brain chronicles these changes in the brains of children and adults as they learn to read while immersed in a digitally dominated medium.
Drawing deeply on this research, this book comprises a series of letters Wolf writes to us—her beloved readers—to describe her concerns and her hopes about what is happening to the reading brain as it unavoidably changes to adapt to digital mediums. Wolf raises difficult questions, including:
- Will children learn to incorporate the full range of "deep reading" processes that are at the core of the expert reading brain?
- Will the mix of a seemingly infinite set of distractions for children’s attention and their quick access to immediate, voluminous information alter their ability to think for themselves?
- With information at their fingertips, will the next generation learn to build their own storehouse of knowledge, which could impede the ability to make analogies and draw inferences from what they know?
- Will all these influences, in turn, change the formation in children and the use in adults of "slower" cognitive processes like critical thinking, personal reflection, imagination, and empathy that comprise deep reading and that influence both how we think and how we live our lives?
- Will the chain of digital influences ultimately influence the use of the critical analytical and empathic capacities necessary for a democratic society?
- How can we preserve deep reading processes in future iterations of the reading brain?
- Who are the "good readers" of every epoch?
Concerns about attention span, critical reasoning, and over-reliance on technology are never just about children—Wolf herself has found that, though she is a reading expert, her ability to read deeply has been impacted as she has become, inevitably, increasingly dependent on screens.
Wolf draws on neuroscience, literature, education, technology, and philosophy and blends historical, literary, and scientific facts with down-to-earth examples and warm anecdotes to illuminate complex ideas that culminate in a proposal for a biliterate reading brain. Provocative and intriguing, Reader, Come Home is a roadmap that provides a cautionary but hopeful perspective on the impact of technology on our brains and our most essential intellectual capacities—and what this could mean for our future.
“A love song to the written word, a brilliant introduction to the science of the reading brain and a powerful call to action. With each page, Wolf shows us why we must preserve deep reading for ourselves and sow desire for it within our kids. Otherwise, we risk losing the critical benefits for humanity that come with reading deeply to understand our world.” —Lisa Guernsey, co-author of Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in A World of Screens
“Scholar, storyteller, and humanist, Wolf brings her laser-sharp eye to the science of reading in a seminal book about what it means to be literate in our digital and global age. Informed by a review of research from neuroscience to Socratic philosophy, and wittily crafted with true affection for her audience, Reader Come Home charts a compelling case for a new approach to lifelong literacy that could truly affect the course of human history.” —Michael H. Levine, co-author of Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in A World of Screens
“In this profound and well-researched study of our changing reading patterns, Wolf presents lucid arguments for teaching our brain to become all-embracing in the age of electronic technology. If you call yourself a reader and want to keep on being one, this extraordinary book is for you.” —Alberto Manguel
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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