Summer reads: When you can’t travel, let a book transport you



If you can’t get to Venice, Italy, allow a book translated from Italian to transport you there.
Tom Podmore/Unsplash

Amy McLay Paterson, Thompson Rivers University

I don’t understand beach reads. And I’m not the only one. There’s no universal consensus about the category, though the marketing tends to revolve around those books popularly considered disposable, unserious, or at the very least, books “you don’t mind getting wet.”

Last year, I toted Anna Karenina along with me — it got soaked, and I abandoned it in an AirBnB in Dubrovnik, Croatia, after I’d finished reading it. It lasted nearly the whole trip and left a gaping, souvenir-sized hole in my suitcase; it was perfect. So as much as I’d like to dissolve the beach read label entirely, I must also admit I have a type: I want a meaty, absorbing book that takes me further into a vacation by connecting with the cultures that produced it. I want a book that can’t be disposed of, one that will take me somewhere entirely new.

What I really want is to decouple the notion of summer reading as a lifestyle marker of class or gender. If the “pursuit of intellectual betterment” feels inaccessible or off-putting, I would like to propose at least the pursuit of expanding our emotional connections.

In a cultural climate where the limits of empathy are increasingly under a microscope, forging cross-cultural connections feels like a pressing task. Much has been made of the relationship between fiction reading and empathy, but what happens when the limits of our worldview are bounded by the English language? While linguistic diversity is growing in Canada, the majority of Canadians still speak only English at home, and comparatively few books are translated into English. If, as José Ortega y Gasset proposes, reading in translation should transport the reader into the language — and therefore the perspective — of the author, then reading translated works may be one of the best ways to expand empathy beyond the boundaries of language.

I’m not going abroad this summer, at least not physically. I’ll be staying in Canada, with only my books to pull me to other times and places. While in recent years, I’ve focused on keeping up with new releases, this year I’m fixated on atmosphere and transportation, in a mix of old favourites and new-to-me classics from around the world.

Italy

‘Arturo’s Island,’ 1957.
Arnoldo Mondadori Editore

I won’t tell you to read Elena Ferrante, because you’ve probably heard that before. Instead, I will be delving into the work of Elsa Morante, a possible inspiration for Ferrante’s pseudonym. Arturo’s Island, originally published in English in 1959, has been published in a new translation by Ann Goldstein (translator of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels). The novel promises a mix of the remote island setting steeped in Morante’s preoccupation with social issues and the spectre of war.


Poland

‘Flights,’ 2018.
Riverhead Books

One of my favourite themes in European literature is that of movement and fluidity, the running sense of unity of purpose amidst myriad diverse pockets of culture. The ubiquity of trains and boats support transcontinental journeys by characters who switch language mid-conversation. Last year’s Man Booker International winner, Flights by Olga Tokarczuk takes traveling and travelers as the subject of its interconnected musings, making it an ideal choice for the vacation headspace. This year’s winner, Celestial Bodies from Oman’s Jokha Alharthi, has an English edition but has not yet been published in Canada.


Croatia

‘Baba Yaba Laid an Egg’ 2009.
Canongate Books

In my opinion, no contemplation of Pan-European lore can be complete without Dubravka Ugrešic’s Baba Yaga Laid an Egg. Once labeled a witch herself and driven into exile from Croatia, Ugrešic’s take on Baba Yaga explores the shifting nature of popular folklore.


Nigeria

‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ 2006.
Knopf

Half of a Yellow Sun by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is not a translation, but it will take you to a place that only briefly existed: Biafra, a West African state founded in 1967. While the brutality of recent war may not make a particularly appetizing subject for vacation, Adichie contrasts the brutality with sumptuous descriptions of pre-war food and luxury, giving her vision of Biafra the aura of a lost dream. Adichie has referred to the war as a shadow over her childhood.


Norway

‘Kristen Lavransdatter,’ 2005.
Penguin Books

There are no beaches in Kristen Lavransdatter and many more Christmases than summers, but if you start Nobel Prize-winner Sigrid Undset’s oeuvre now, it may take you until winter to finish it. Set in Medieval Norway, the book follows the titular Kristen from childhood until death, focusing on her tumultuous love affair and marriage to Erlend Nikulaussøn. Tiina Nunnally’s translation, focusing on plain, stripped-down language, presents a change in philosophy from the first English translation that cut large portions of the text and enforced stiff, archaic language absent from the original Norwegian.


Argentina

‘Fever Dream,’ 2017.
Riverhead Books

Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream is slight in length but packs a heavy punch in both atmosphere and psychological investment. The story of a vacation gone terribly wrong, the novel’s Spanish title closely translates to “rescue distance,” a recurring concept instantly familiar to parents of young children and terrifying as it becomes repeatedly destabilized. Fever Dream is so unsettling that I sometimes hesitate to recommend it, but I’ve found myself repeatedly drawn back to its tantalizing surrealism.


Canada

‘Secwépemc People, Land and Laws,’ 2017.
McGill-Queen’s University Press

I’ve spent much of my life moving around, and as a recent settler on unceded Secwepemc territory, I want to learn more about the land I live on. In a summer steeped in fiction, Secwépemc People, Land, and Laws by Marianne and Ronald Ignace is the only history on my list, but in many ways it feels similar to the others, reaching out to add a new dimension to a place in which I’m still mostly an outsider. For better or for worse, Kamloops feels the most like itself in summer, the climate wants to have its stories told. It can feel intimidating to contemplate a 10,000 year history I know nothing about, but also comforting and necessary to reach back and hear the tales of the land I now call home.The Conversation

Amy McLay Paterson, Assessment and User Experience Librarian, Thompson Rivers University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Reading and writing assistance increases the chance of getting a Disability Support Pension



One in eight disability support claims rejected are because the applicant is unable to supply the requested information.
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Nary Hong, UNSW

The 2019 Australian Conference of Economists is taking place in Melbourne from July 14 to 16.

During the conference The Conversation is publishing a selection of articles by the authors of papers being delivered at the conference. Others are here.


The Disability Support Pension is important in the lives of the Australians who receive it. The latest figures show that’s 4% of the working age population.

Yet a huge proportion of claims for it are rejected. Over the four years from 2011-12 to 2014-15 the average “grant rate” was 43%, meaning 57% of claims were rejected.

The largest non-medical reason given for rejection is failure to supply the requested information, accounting for one in eight rejections.

In a paper to be presented to the Australian Conference of Economists in Melbourne on Tuesday I examine the extent to which that is due to a specific kind of disability – an inability to properly complete the form.

Does form-filling matter?

The Bureau of Statistics survey of disability, ageing and carers provides rich data the on employment, socio-demographic characteristics and health conditions of disabled Australians, including the extent to which they have assistance with reading and writing.

One question is

do/does you/he/she receive assistance from any organised services to help with reading and writing tasks?

Another is

do/does you/he/she receive assistance from anyone else, such as a partner or spouse/parent, family, friends or neighbours to help with reading and writing tasks?

I combined the answers to these questions to create a yes/no answer to the broader question of whether or not an applicant for the Disability Support Pension obtained help with reading and writing from any source.

Confidentialised unit record files from 2003, 2009 and 2015 gave me data on 18,141 disabled Australians between the ages of 16 to 64.

Help with reading does matter…

I found that reading and writing assistance is associated with an increase of about 20% in the probability of getting the Disability Support Pension.

Most of that reading and writing support comes from informal sources (family, friends and neighbours) rather than formal ones.

And it seems to be more than an association. Using statistical techniques to set aside the impact of other things that might be driving the effect, I find that the impact of help with literacy is even greater.

Ideally, help shouldn’t have much impact, but the claim form for the Disability Support Pension is 33 pages long.




Read more:
Financial literacy is a public policy problem


The government has introduced new assessment tables in a legitimate and successful attempt to restrain the growth of the Disability Support Pension.

But there can be no case for (unintentionally) using complexity as another means of restraining growth in use of the pension.

…we should be taking it mainstream

The strong positive impact of the reading assistance that has been available builds a case for providing more of it, through formal means, to ensure that fewer people are deterred from applying for benefits for which they are eligible.

Greater formal provision of help would also ease the pressure on informal helpers, making it easier for them to stay in the workforce and improving their emotional well-being.

This finding has implications for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, for which reading and writing is even more important to navigate. The NDIS emphasises individual choices, making the application process particularly complex.

Disability with paperwork should not be a barrier to receiving disability benefits.




Read more:
The NDIS hasn’t made much difference to carers’ opportunities for paid work


The Conversation


Nary Hong, PhD candidate in Economics, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Reading Books with Toddlers


The link below is to an article that looks at reading books with toddlers – print or digital?

For more visit:
https://www.contemporarypediatrics.com/pediatrics/reading-books-toddlers-print-or-electronic

You could be putting your child off reading – here’s how to change that



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Isang Awah, University of Cambridge

Not every child is a bookworm, but research shows that developing a love of reading early in life can provide many benefits. From a positive impact on academic achievement, increased general knowledge, vocabulary growth, improved writing ability, and helping children to develop empathy, it’s clear reading can play an important role in a child’s development.

It has also been argued that on top of providing pleasure, reading literature helps children to cultivate an imagination. And an overview of several studies on reading for pleasure suggests that it may also be a way to combat social exclusion and raise educational standards.

But despite the huge benefits that reading offers, evidence suggests that young people are reading less and that many children fall behind in reading from about the age of 10.

Some teachers believe that parents should be more active in supporting their child’s reading. This is understandable as studies on successful literacy achievement often feature either support from a parent or a teacher – indicating how both can help children to develop a love for reading.

But while it’s important that parents and teachers become actively involved in helping children to read more, my research reveals there are some things parents and teachers may do that actually put children off reading.

Let them choose their own books

In my research with children between the ages of nine and 12, I explored the extent to which they read for pleasure and the different factors that affected their reading engagement.

Things such as parents or teachers selecting the books the children read in their leisure time, or parents not allowing the children to read their preferred books were shown to have a negative impact on children’s reading engagement. As were parents or teachers forcing children to read and parents insisting that children read books to the end.

Children enjoy reading more when they’ve chosen their own books.
Shutterstock

Some of the children in my study complained that their parents always selected the books they read in their leisure time and that the parents’ selections were not always books that the children liked. A little boy described the books his father selected for him to read at home as “hard books” and could only recall one occasion when he had enjoyed reading the book his father selected.

There were also complaints by other children that their teachers selected the books they read during the reading period at school, and that usually, they did not like the books and often did not read them.

Don’t force it

Some children also complained that their parents did not allow them to read the books they had an interest in. For instance, one boy said that he liked Enid Blyton books, but his father did not allow him to read these. A girl complained that her father stopped her from reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid books because “they don’t teach anything”.

A few children complained of either being forced to read when they would rather not read, or being forced to complete a book they had lost interest in.

So, as important as reading is for a child’s development, my research shows why children must be allowed to exercise their right to not read or stop reading at anytime – as to do otherwise is likely to put them off reading altogether.

Make it fun

From my interviews with the children, I also discovered that it was common practice for teachers and parents to ask children questions about the books they read and that reading aloud done by teachers at school was usually accompanied by questions. While this might seem like a useful learning technique, it’s not one that goes down well with the kids.

All the children I spoke with said they did not like being asked questions after reading – and that it took away the fun from reading. One boy said that knowing he would be asked questions about the reading “kind of makes me feel like they’re going to give us an exam or a test afterwards”.

Don’t force it, reading should feel fun for kids.
Shutterstock

As the findings from my study show, when it comes to books, it’s important to respect your child’s preferences – even if they do not meet your expectations. Indeed, there is evidence to show that children best enjoy reading books they self-select – and doing otherwise may reduce the potential for pleasurable engagement in reading.

So given this, both parents and teachers would do well to remember that sometimes children just want to curl up with a good book, of their choice, and simply enjoy the process of reading for what it is.The Conversation

Isang Awah, PhD Candidate in Education, University of Cambridge

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.