Propagating Lifelong Learning: Be Pro-Book Choice

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My spouse and I watch very little television beyond the news, the arts and collegiate sports. However, we do subscribe to and receive dozens of magazines at our house. They cover a myriad of subjects, like news, politics, women’s issues, health and photography. They are about literacy education, science and exploration, and cultural history, too. We intentionally pile these periodicals onto our coffee table and kitchen counter on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.autonomy 8

Sometimes they come in so fast, however, that we typically have several issues of the same publication on our coffee table at once. There are books on that table, too, which my wife and I are read together (taking turns reading aloud while the other one cooks or folds laundry). Along with two daily newspapers we receive (one is digital only), all of these publications are a presence in our lives.

It might seem like our reading agenda is out of control. But no, our commitment to stay informed about the world and expand our personal and shared interests actually frames our lives, individually and together. Our self-determined reading content inspires conversation (sometimes a spat) and lots of personal reflection. This daily reading makes us lifelong learners.

choice 1How on earth do people arrive at this place in life, where daily, self-selected reading is a given?

Lifelong readers, like us, are constantly acquiring new information and knowledge, but the nature of what is learned, which is personally fulfilling enough to keep us constantly scanning for a next print engagement, is shaped by choices we make and by discovering how well (or poorly) we choose. The development of that autonomy has kept us reading throughout lifetimes of learning and personal expansion.

Our choices for generating inspiration and reflection are rather unique to us. That individuality certainly didn’t come out of our cookie cutter K-12 education. We did not generate our unique tastes and personal autonomies just by succeeding in the “right-answer” curriculum. Somehow we learned to express ourselves individually in making our very own reading choices.readingchoice1

Lack of early autonomy in book choice can stunt early reading growth to the point at which by the teenage years, kids only read when required and pretty much stop reading for life on high school graduation day. On the other hand, children who experience early freedom of self-determination in book choice seem to naturally become lifelong readers, and thankfully in this fast changing world, lifelong learners.

The habit of avid daily reading (with the attendant learning) is inarguably the single most powerful goal for any child’s ongoing education.


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10 Responses to “Propagating Lifelong Learning: Be Pro-Book Choice”

  1. TerryB October 5, 2017 at 11:38 am #

    Yes. Kids learn from their parents. And after that their teachers. If parents don’t read and teachers merely teach sub-skills ( and don’t model reading) why would the kids.

    • Mark Condon October 6, 2017 at 5:51 am #

      Right, Terry. Kids are smart and they are observant. They watch how the world works and seek to become an effective part of it. If reading for personal enjoyment doesn’t actually show up in the role models in their lives, it just isn’t going to get their attention or interest. That makes raising them as lifelong readers and learners all the harder.

      • Veronica October 7, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

        I conquer! The first and most impactful influence in a child’s life is their parent. Children seek to assimilate within their environment to be accepted.? If Reading isn’t a priority within their home hopefully teachers make an impression. Being exposed to rich literature in and outside the classroom has become a challenge. As educators we have to plant the seeds and hope that they land on fertile ground.

        • Mark Condon October 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

          …and parents are a critical part of making that ground as fertile as possible. Thanks for sharing that Veronica!

  2. Michael October 7, 2017 at 4:04 pm #

    Working with adult literacy learners is much the same, with the advantage of pro-active feedback. My people can, and will, tell me what they like.
    My best link is inviting a selection of just one item they find interesting in today’s newspaper. We all have different tastes, interests and curiosities and a personal selection gives me clues for future class work.
    Michael, New Zealand.

    • Mark Condon October 7, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

      It IS the most personal thing ever, Michael. Watching your adult students is just as critical as watching the little ones. They will show you who they are and what they need.

  3. Mar Brown October 8, 2017 at 3:27 am #

    HI Mark
    Thanks for a great article. I am a History teacher, but in my spare time I run a literacy quiz in SA to incentivise reading amongst youth who may not be able to access books. Only 8% of schools in SA have functioning libraries. These young kids – last three years of primary school- just lap up books when given the chance. I also run Kids Lit Quiz in SA – an international project that rewrads good readers. The change in library stock in SA in well reosurced schools has been a great impact – many more genres being available etc. Check out

    • Mark Condon October 9, 2017 at 10:39 am #

      Wow! Good for you, Mar. Thanks for sharing and lighting the way for others who would like to help.

  4. Joedeen Manglona October 12, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    I enjoyed reading your blog and couldn’t agree with you more. I liked how you and your spouse still read many things and try to keep up with the world. These days I have just been reading things work related, being a new teacher with everything I am juggling been holding off on other things that interest me but after reading this blog I will now take time and read a little a day for myself. Thank you! I too want to be a lifelong learner no matter what age I am.

    • Mark Condon October 12, 2017 at 9:29 am #

      Being a first year teacher is tough duty, Joedeen. It can be exhausting and leave you with little time for yourself. It sounds to me like you are indeed a lifelong learner and taking charge of your own reading life is a great path to follow. Thanks for the kind comments.