By Thomas Newkirk
I believe in the power and pleasure of slow reading. I believe in the importance of sound in reading—of rhythm, emphasis, even silence—and that when we fail to hear these sounds, even internally, we have lost something important.
I believe in authors and my relationship to them, and that all serious relationships require commitment and attention. I believe this capacity for attentive reading is a central mission of education, one that unites all fields of study—indeed I believe most learning is about being deliberate, slowing down; otherwise we are only reinforcing what we already know. I believe that slow reading runs counter to a media culture that stresses speed, distraction, and a loss of history. I believe in works of literature that have endured, and that it is a great gift to students to make this work accessible and meaningful.
I also believe in the power of great contemporary literature—which is written for all ages—and think it critical to acknowledge these writers, as the song advises, “in their living years.” And I look forward to the time when we return to naming schools, parks, and bridges after authors. All this I believe.
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Thomas Newkirk is the author of numerous Heinemann titles, including The Art of Slow Reading, Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones and most recently, Minds Made For Stories: How We Really Read and Write Informational Texts.