Reaction Post: Oh, How I Wished I Could Read by J. Gile
This picture-and-text book for children is highly enjoyable because of excellent illustrations, simple but engaging plot and a lesson about the value of reading skills embedded into it. This book may be perceived as good for children only because it motivates them to learn to read or to improve this skill and does so on clear and emotionally strong examples (Gile, 1995). Yet as I re-read this book I got to realize that adults can also experience this feeling of a helpless person unable to navigate the world. My text-to-life connection is quite simple yet vivid. This inability to read may be compared to inability to use some complex equipment that is used by every other person. For example, to use multi-cooker one needs to learn first. It is impossible to cook in it without reading through the manual. To an experienced user this is ridicules: several buttons, a few regimes and a cookbook to rely on. Yet facing this appliance for the first time without any preparation is like facing the road signs written in some foreign language we do not know.
This leads immediately to another text-to-life connection: travelling in a country the language of which is unknown to us. We may also feel like a boy who could not read. We see letters but cannot interpret them and draw the meaning they stand for. This 'inability' to read a foreign language can be partial, when at least street names can be discerned because they are spelt in Roman letters, and complete, when the surrounding signs are written in, say, Chinese hieroglyphs. In this case a traveler from Anglophonic country visiting Beijing with zero knowledge of Chinese will feel precisely like that boy.
All in all, the basic ability to read has many analogues in the modern world, like skill to use computers earlier and skill to operate in cloud environments and employ various synchronizing and co-working tools in order to stay connected in the globalized world. Digital literacy has become a must today. However, reading is the basis for operating in both real and virtual world. So the idea tackled by Gile is that reading needs to be promoted among children and that children need to be shown in simple and engaging way how important reading is. The chain of mishaps that fall on the boy's head allows kids to live through his experience without actually sitting on a painted bench or jumping into poison ivy growth (Gile, 1995). So children learn about such troubles without actually getting into one. This is the embodiment of what Nikolajeva said in her chapter 3 about the real value of reading for children's cognitive and emotional development (Nikolajeva, 87).
Gile, John (author), Frank Fiorello (illustrations). Oh, How I Wished I Could Read. JGC / United Publishing Corps, 1995.
Nikolajeva, Maria. Knowledge of Other People. Reading for learning: Cognitive Approaches to Children's' Literature. Amsterdam. john Benjamins Publishing Company, 2014, …