Building Readers for Life

Diane is honored and excited to present for the second year at The Literacy Nest Conference. Her topic this year will be Systematizing Word Study into your Orton Gillingham Sequence.

You can sign up here: https://scontent.fapa1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/90916335_2663048190471794_7299550030564687872_n.png?_nc_cat=105&_nc_sid=b386c4&_nc_ohc=DWoiYpDiOMoAX_676Tb&_nc_ht=scontent.fapa1-2.fna&oh=4d09798a1d35809f0a096b6d4fa60c2c&oe=5F08BF6E

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The Shallows

by Diane Talbot

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Recently, I reread the Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, which I first read when it came out in 2010. Ironically, this time I listened to it on audiobook – in just minutes, I was able to find it at my local library, download it onto my phone, and plug it into my car stereo to listen to on my commute. There are portions that are dated, of course, and ever newer social media platforms exist now, but the basic premise held up well.

When I read it the first time, I was militantly resisting ebooks for myself. When my son graduated from college, he bought me a Kindle PaperWhite for Mother’s Day, telling me if I hated it, he’d resell it. Today, I wouldn’t easily give up my Kindle. I love the instant gratification of being able to buy or check out a book, making fonts a comfortable size and being able to read anywhere without regard for good lighting. I like the portability of having a whole library in my purse, and I like that I can highlight passages and instantly share them on Goodreads, and that Goodreads automatically updates my progress on the book.

There are some downsides, of course: I don’t like not knowing physically where I am in a book. (Many books don’t have the progress percentage and even when they do, the type is so tiny that I have a hard time easily reading it.) I miss being able to easily close the book and stare at the cover art or reread the synopsis—and it’s harder to go back to reread a portion to remind myself of what happened. I tend to read a lot of sweeping historical novels that have maps and genealogical flowcharts, and miss being able to flip to them to refresh my memory.

For novels, a digital copy works fine. Yet I still read journal articles and informational texts on paper whenever possible, going to the trouble of printing whole textbooks when taking a course that only has an ebook. I need to physically make notes in the margins and highlight and flip back and forth. For comprehension, paper works best for me, and Carr cites the brain research that tells us why this is so.

Recently, I was working with a middle school student who struggles with comprehension. Reading one of his texts online—as almost all his schoolwork is assigned—he had a question about what something was, and before I could explain and get back to the text, he had a Google window open. Along with definitions, it included images that included barely on topic anime characters and he was laughing and changing his screen image to one of them. No wonder he struggles with comprehension!

As a Literacy Specialist, I still have many of the same reservations as Carr did then. I worry about comprehension and attention when students read online. I worry that they are being distracted by hyperlinks and the ability to follow those impulses. I worry that students are missing the tactile experience of a book, which I know is particularly important for kids with dyslexia and other learning differences. I worry that the information on the web is difficult to sort through for accuracy and relevance.

Yet, the move toward ebooks for education has many benefits both for the school and for kids. The costs for schools are lower, and updated information is as easy as an update to the webpage. The kids don’t have backbreaking backpacks. For kids with learning differences, in particular, textbooks can be read aloud, an important accommodation. The use of Google Read and Write allows students to simplify webpages, taking out videos and advertisements, so they can make notes and highlight online. Used thoughtfully, these tools are beneficial.

Technology isn’t going anywhere and we and our kids will have to adapt. Nicholas Carr gives some good insight and suggestions for how to navigate the good parts of the internet, and also keep the focus and depth we need to understand our world. For online work, I took Carr’s words to heart and try to keep distractions to a minimum when I need focus. I don’t allow pop-ups. I shut down social media and move my phone away from me.





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The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

By Diane Talbot

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A student of mine could not stop talking about how much she loved this book, so I decided I needed to read it to see if it was as good as she thought. I am so glad I did. This book won the Newberry Award in 2017 and it is well-deserved. It is a lovely fairy tale with compelling characters. The use of language is just delicious; my student and I used words from the book for a series of word investigations. For older children and young adults–and adults– who love a well-told tale of magic and adventure, this is a wonderful choice. I loved it!



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All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

By Diane Talbot

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this book, though, as a mom and teacher, watching Finch spin out of control with no adult stepping in, made me sad and anxious. I also worried about Violet, dealing with Finch’s emotional roller coaster alone. It was not an easy read. Mental illness and suicide ideation is not something that can be taken lightly and this book did a good job of addressing this issue.

As a side-note, I really want to do my own “wandering” project now. It is an amazing concept to discover all the bright places in your own area.



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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2)

By Diane Talbot

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I liked this book a lot. I read the first one (The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making) last year. I loved it, but by the time I was finished, I was not chomping to move on to the next book in the series, as I often am when I find a series that I like.

Last week I needed a sure-thing, a happy read, and picked up the second book in the series. The whimsy and imaginative use of language and characters did not disappoint. I love the escaped shadows who are enjoying their freedom from their corporeal people and creatures. I loved that September is growing up, learning to stand up for herself and understand the gray scales in life. The text is packed with delightful details. I love how clothing is sentient and adjusts to the wearer’s needs. Every sentence is beautiful and skimming is not an option.

If you love Lewis Carroll, you will love these modern twists on the fantastic fairytale.

That said, I have to admit that the next book will be sitting on my shelf waiting for a while until I need a sure-thing read. These books, for me, need to be savored and I seem to have a limit for how much I can enjoy, kind of like eating a pile of candy. At the moment, I am ready to brush my teeth and dig into something different.

It is good to know there are a few more books on my shelf ready for when I need a deep-dive into imagination.



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Harvest Time

By Diane Talbot

This year, my garden has produced a good number of herbs and vegetables for my family, but even more for the squirrels!  The word Harvest comes from an Old English word, hærvest, meaning “autumn.” The Proto-Indo-European root the word derives from is *kerp– “to gather, to pluck.”

Here is a collection of my fruit and vegetable etymology memes. Enjoy!

Resources Used:

Etymonline.com

Word Origins, by John Ayto

The Diner’s Dictionary, by John Ayto

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

By Diane Talbot

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The stories of these intelligent and brave women who were instrumental in making history fascinated me. I am so glad that Ms. Shetterly brought these stories to our attention. I enjoyed not only their stories but the background of how NASA and the space race inspired a generation.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the space program, women’s and civil rights, science or mathematics. And if you are not interested in any of the above, pick it up and see how interesting these subjects can be when framed through the lives of women who changed the course of history.

Listening on audiobook made it a bit hard to keep characters straight, but also helped me get through the more technical explanations. I think audiobook, plus a paper copy for reference would have been ideal for my reading of this book.




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