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As a college teacher--currently teaching freshman comp. at a community college--I want to thank you for providing some much-needed inspiration. I too have observed the strange disconnection between my students' ability to speak and their inability to write clearly. I constantly urge them to read their own work out loud, but it's hard for me to get them to take that advice seriously. You've reinforced the importance of the connection between oral and written language, and give me some ideas about how to push my students to see it, too.

Ken Muldrew

Lance wrote, "Whatever good it did them, it suited me and made teaching more enjoyable, and that fact has often made me wonder how much it really was the case that I was on to something useful and how much it was just the case that I was rationalizing my own fun and games."

That is how it is supposed to work! Follow your curiosity wherever it leads and you will find something worthwhile. Altruistic academics who put in 15 hours of hard labor each day trying to do good for society are all very honorable and virtuous, but they are not creative. They are god's own chosen ones, but they are not the folks to look to for the creation of knowledge and understanding. But the people having fun, now there are some people with interesting ideas!

Nancy Nall

Nicely stated, Lance. I shall aloud read to my child this very evening.

gray lensman

I was born in 12/1941 and my mother read to me and my father from many books and the newspaper in the 40's and fifties. I would sit in her lap and follow along so avidly that I was reading the easier Sunday comics by the age of three and a half. We moved a lot in those early years (five first grades) and my early reading skills made up for always being the "new kid on the block". I also listened to the kids' programs on radio and that sharpened my ear for language. I still prefer radio and reading. My wife and I haven't watched teevee at all for more than seventeen years. We often read to each other from many kinds of books. I heartily agree with President Obama's mantra "turn off the television".


This made me think of Mayor LaGuardia reading the funnies to the children of NYC during a newspaper strike in the 1940s.


policomic, I'm glad to have helped out. Good luck, and let me know how it goes. And I heartily recommend Kaplan's book, for your own pleasure and inspiration.

Nance, your kid will still sit still to listen to you read? Lucky. I miss reading to our guys. They love listening to recorded books, though.

Kevin Wolf

I'm glad someone made the connection to radio; I was thinking along the same lines.

Lance (and gray lensman), I don't know if this was a generational shift that happened across the board, but my Dad had to memorize certain poems and other literature when in school, and he can still recite a lot of it (In Flanders Field; the start of The Canterbury Tales, in olde English) while I never had to memorize anything beyond the multiplication tables and certain dates in history class. I can see that perhaps this change was not beneficial.

Ronzoni Rigatoni

Heinrich Schleimann, the discoverer of Troy, claimed that the gajillion languages he knew he learned by reading them aloud. Took him six months, it was claimed.

I, too, was fortunate that, as a toddler, everybody read aloud to me, and, yep, I was reading the funnies myself by 3 1/2. A great way to go as the language inflections were illustrated along with the dialogue (BAM! Ka-POW!) making it easier to detect the tone of voice.

I was required to memorize many pomes, but only one stuck, called "Ain't Nature Grand", written sometime in the 1920's by a mere High School student IIRC:

'Twas an autumn day in springtime.
The rain was snowing down.
The noise was very quiet
In the wheatfields of the town.

A Turtle in the treetops
Was warbling loud and clear,
While the butterflies were singing
In the Pretty river near.

The ladybugs were playing tag
Beneath the sunny shade,
While the squirrels were squeezing oranges
To make some lemonade.

The daffodills and hyacinths
Were running to and fro.
This may not sound like logic,
But it isn't, 'cause it's so.

Wish I knew the real source of this. It doesn't seem possible that a mere HS student could write it, much less one who knew what "logic" was LOL.


We had to memorize a poem in high school (I chose one by Walter de la Mare) and I remember memorizing The Darkling Thrush and Jabberwocky in college after our Russian teacher expressed her shock and horror that none of us could recite anything in English (let alone in Russian). The Darkling Thrush maps quite nicely onto the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," it turns out.

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