reading

Irish Pro-lifers Campaign to Keep Abortion Illegal

Ireland may well become the first country to introduce abortion by popular vote. This would follow a thirty-five year campaign by abortion advocates to overcome a 1983 amendment protecting the life of the unborn. The Irish Constitution can be amended by the electorate in a referendum. A referendum put to the people is proposed by [...]

Why Young Readers Need Real Books

A young lady I know won a Kindle in an academic contest. She is a voracious reader. In eighth grade, she enjoys Austen, Chesterton, Lewis, and Wodehouse, among many others. A trail of books seems to follow her everywhere she goes. Her parents, wary of potential negative effects of screens on growing minds, would have [...]

The Three Books I’m Going to Read Next

"The medium is the message."  ~ Marshall McLuhan I toss that McLuhan quotation up there as if I understood what it means, but I’m no better off than the poor schlemiel in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall that receives a severe public drubbing from McLuhan himself. “You know nothing of my work,” McLuhan tells the pedantic [...]

Perfect Lenten Reading

Lent is the best time for spiritual reading focused on self-improvement, especially for those who have promised to give up or cut back on sports or entertainment, freeing up time in the process. For us who consider ourselves bad Catholics—or at least not-good-enough Catholics—there is always room for improvement. What sort of books make good [...]

Finding Freedom in Reading Aloud with Children

"Children should be encouraged to read for the pure delight of it.”  ∼ Annie Sullivan, teacher of Helen Keller Most parents have heard that reading aloud to a child at home is one of the most helpful practices in a child’s education. It sounds simple; yet it can be intimidating for parents who want to read [...]

Summer Books for a Billionaire

When Bill Gates announced his 2016 summer reading list, geeks rejoiced. As in previous years, it’s a stack of books full of a lot of long words and sentences. No James Patterson or Stephen King for him; certainly no Austen or Dickens. To his credit, there is a novel, a sci-fi one that does look [...]

When Identity Politics Replaces Stories with Mirrors

Marley Dias is the new media darling. She is an articulate 11-year-old in sixth grade in Orange, NJ. Miss Dias has gained attention because of a book drive she launched, #1000blackgirlbooks, by which she hoped to collect 1000 kids’ books with a black girl as the protagonist. Miss Dias was annoyed that her teacher never [...]

Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part II of II)

 Editor's note: The first part of this essay was published in Crisis on July 4, 2013 and can be read here. Whether one's reading-tastes are developed in the school, the public library, or the family, there are certain patterns of reading by which a normative consciousness is developed. These patterns or levels persist throughout one's [...]

Beyond Newspaper Chewing: Why it Matters What is Read in High School (Part I of II)

In many American high schools, the teaching of literature is in the sere and yellow leaf. One reason for this decay is the unsatisfactory quality of many programs of reading; another is the limited knowledge of humane letters possessed by some well-intentioned teachers, uncertain of what books they ought to select for their students to [...]

101 Books Gen Ys Must Read Before They Die

The must-read list for people who hate to read. “Must read” – not in the sense that something very scary will happen if they don’t, and not in the sense that they won’t be allowed to die if they don’t (read about the “struldbrugs” in Gulliver’s Travels for this possibility). No, what we mean is [...]

What is Poetic Knowledge?

Editor’s note: Since so many people have responded favorably to the Civilized Reader column with requests for more information about John Senior and his educational vision, it seemed appropriate to republish this review of James Taylor’s Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education by (State University of New York Press, 1998).  Taylor and Kramer were both [...]

Sense and Nonsense: The Partisans of Excellence

In an old Peanuts sketch, from a book Scott Walter once gave me, Linus and Charlie Brown are seen walking across the countryside. Linus says to Charlie, “I have a theological question. . . .” Next, they are seen, caps on, leaning on a stone fence, as Linus continues: “When you die and go to [...]

Starting Over: Catholic Higher Education Flourishes in California

Now that the Department of Education suggests we go to school to the Japanese for light on teaching and learning there is no longer any doubt that this country is in steep decline. Because Americans could no longer make cars, our autobah-nen are full of Hondas. We are also growing dumber by degrees and Johnnie [...]

Quodlibets: Borges Redux

The image he invited of himself was that of a wraithlike figure, moving among the stacks of a great library, no longer sure of the difference between what he reads and the rest of reality. "El universo (que otros llaman la Biblioteca) se compone . . ." ["The universe (which others call the library) is [...]

A Case Study: Can Catholic Schools Remain Catholic?

Nowadays, people seem to think that schools can achieve inherently contradictory aims. For example, educators in Catholic schools often blithely pass over the friction between their desire to teach students to be tolerant of people who hold different values and the school's stated purpose of enhancing the students' appreciation of religion. Nor do such educators [...]

Sense and Nonsense: “In the shining light, destroy us”

For a course I gave recently on political philosophy and natural law, one of the books I had wanted to read, or reread, with my good class was C. S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man, a book I realized I had not taken a look at for some time, though its powerful theme has almost [...]

Sense and Nonsense: A Good Answer

The other day I received from Terry Hall at Catholicism in Crisis something of an assignment. During Lent, it seems, Terry had been reading The Private Prayers of Lancelot Andrewes. A certain passage kept recurring in them which went, in the Morning Prayer, "A good answer at the dreadful and fearful judgment seat of Jesus [...]

Common Wisdom: Marigolds and Silence

Not long ago we pulled into the parking lot of the local optician, where our son, prescription in hand, was about to invest his savings in a pair of contact lenses. On an adjoining lot is a day care center — a well-run day care center of excellent reputation, owned and operated by a respected [...]

Observations: At the Movies

There are a lot of first-run movies in my bottleneck of the woods these days—New York City—and three deal with questions regarding women and women's roles, about sex and sexuality, and, in large or small measure, with religion. One of them is being picketed, one is being applauded, and one is being ignored. The pickets [...]

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