Reader, Come Home


Marianne Wolf
Reader, Come Home is about the importance of deep reading. It discusses the consequences of the decline in reading deeply on important issues. It explains what is necessary to develop and apply the ability to read deeply. Constant interruptions are so ubiquitous that their effect may not be noticed on our quality of life. Society’s rapid pace makes it easier to react than to take the time to consider alternatives and judge. We respond to what is made to sound urgent rather than to that which is important.

If those of us who do, or did, read deeply are finding it more difficult, what implications does this have for young people who have grown up with the immediacy of electronic media and find only loneliness in quiet time, not the solitude which is necessary to explore and reflect.


Marianne Wolf’s goal is to nurture plasticity to support bilingualism; one mode of reading appropriate to handle the volume of shallow print and another appropriate for deep reading which requires time, quiet, and patient attention. She does not discuss the addiction to electronic media which is correlated to the incidence of anxiety, depression, and suicides in teens and young adults.


The following excerpts address some of the skills prerequisite to deep reading.
When we read words in sentences and longer text, we enter new cognitive territory, where prediction meets perception, and indeed, more often than not, precedes and prepares perception.


Expert readers process and connect lower-level perceptual information at near-breakneck speeds. Only such speed can enable us to allocate attention to the higher-level deep-reading processes, which in turn constantly feed their conclusions back and forth with the lower-level processes, thus better preparing them for the next words they encounter…. They accelerate perception by narrowing the possibilities of what we will read next.

Reading’s most tangible, sensorially evocative process is our capacity to form images when we read.
The act of taking on the perspective and feelings of others is one of the most profound, insufficiently heralded contributions of the deep-reading process…. In this sense, when we read fiction, the brain actively simulates the consciousness of another person, including those whom we would never otherwise even imagine knowing.

Various eye-movement researchers have described how digital reading often as not involves an F or zigzag style in which we rapidly “word-spot” through a text to grasp the context, dart to the conclusions at the end, and, only if warranted, return to the body of the text to cherry-pick supporting details.

Marianne Wolf quotes Herman Hesse: “Without words, without writing, and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.” Also, President Obama, who is worried that for many of our young people, information has become “a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather that a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”

kids on books
One of the most salient influences on young children’s attention involves the shared gaze that occurs and develops while parents read to them.
When you speak to your children, you expose them to words that are all around them. A wonderful thing. When you read to your children, you expose them to words they never hear in other places and to sentences no one around them uses.
The universal moral laws every culture possesses begin with stories.
The atrophy and gradual disuse of our analytical and reflective capacities as individuals are the worst enemies of a truly democratic society.


Proust and the Squid:The Story and Science of the Reading Brain

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? by Jean M. Twenge

Reclaiming Conversation