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Publisher's Summary

From the author of Proust and the Squid, a lively, ambitious, and deeply informative epistolary book that considers the future of the reading brain and our capacity for critical thinking, empathy, and reflection as we become increasingly dependent on digital technologies.

A decade ago, Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid revealed what we know about how the brain learns to read and how reading changes the way we think and feel. Since then, the ways we process written language have changed dramatically with many concerned about both their own changes and that of children. New research on the reading brain chronicles these changes in the brains of children and adults as they learn to read while immersed in a digitally dominated medium.

Drawing deeply on this research, this audiobook comprises a series of letters Wolf writes to us to describe her concerns and her hopes about what is happening to the reading brain as it unavoidably changes to adapt to digital mediums. Wolf raises difficult questions, including:

  • Will children learn to incorporate the full range of "deep reading" processes that are at the core of the expert reading brain?
  • Will the mix of a seemingly infinite set of distractions for children’s attention and their quick access to immediate, voluminous information alter their ability to think for themselves?
  • With information at their fingertips, will the next generation learn to build their own storehouse of knowledge, which could impede the ability to make analogies and draw inferences from what they know?
  • Will all these influences, in turn, change the formation in children and the use in adults of "slower" cognitive processes like critical thinking, personal reflection, imagination, and empathy that comprise deep reading and that influence both how we think and how we live our lives?
  • Will the chain of digital influences ultimately influence the use of the critical analytical and empathic capacities necessary for a democratic society?
  • How can we preserve deep reading processes in future iterations of the reading brain?
  • Who are the "good readers" of every epoch?

Concerns about attention span, critical reasoning, and over-reliance on technology are never just about children - Wolf herself has found that, though she is a reading expert, her ability to read deeply has been impacted as she has become, inevitably, increasingly dependent on screens.

Wolf draws on neuroscience, literature, education, technology, and philosophy and blends historical, literary, and scientific facts with down-to-earth examples and warm anecdotes to illuminate complex ideas that culminate in a proposal for a biliterate reading brain.

©2018 Maryanne Wolf (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Reader, Come Home

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Compelling thoughts on today's reader.

The author and a fine vocal performance take us thru the state of reading in our Modern Digital Society. The author informs us in the early chapters on how the brains plasticity for reading is crucial for cognition. Her compelling guidance on where we 'were' in learning how to read and where we 'are' in the digital age offers a stark contrast on contemplative knowledge. Her concern that we are raising youth that may not have the same approach to reading as previous generations in gaining knowledge and wisdom from books. With the constant bombardment of digital content, reading is not aligned with 'deep' thought and cognition. I highly recommend her work.

4 people found this helpful

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Essential!

If you consider yourself a reader past or present, you should read this book and reflect on the changes most readers are experiencing as our attention is directed at too many things and overwhelmed by a barrage of information. Deep reading is declining and it is up to us to sound the alarm and make sure future generations are exposed and instructed to read abundantly on print, as well as digital mediums.

3 people found this helpful

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Fascinating information

Not an easy listen, but the information was fascinating. The narrator did a great job.

1 person found this helpful

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Listen, then go to work

I thought teachers knew how to teach reading. I recall my son's sense of shame having to leave class to go to reading lab in grade school. I read to my kids, talked a lot. They had good speaking vocabularies. My daughter's problems were more difficult. I served on the school systems Special Education Advisory Committee, supported teachers, believed in IEPs, but as a single parent could only do so much. They went from Virginia to Rhode Island to live with their mother at ages 10 and 12. Was there progress? Not so much. My daughter finished high school in Texas. Counselors all the way, no particular improvement in reading skill, but verbal communication was fine. Did their children do better? Two dropouts. Now great grandkids. Maybe I can get to the parents. Truly bothered by what has passed for education in the USA. A Boomer, 1946 born, I had a reading mother and a great public school system in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Shallow thinking has become dominant? Over entertained and under educated. Take this message to heart and do what you can. Consider to finding a new message for these times. Maryanne is speaking with the wisdom of a prophet, warning inspired by The Creator, God, Allah, or whatever name you religion uses, or universal consciousness of science provides for this evolutionary experimental world. The greatest abuse is to not educate said a wise sage to me long ago. Without reading skill, language decoding, education has little foundation on which to build.

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Strongly opinionated

This is not well founded on scientific evidence, it is rather mainly the opinion of the author when it comes to balancing reading habits with digital media access. Yes people should be reading more, but there is little evidence to postulate that one reading form is necessarily better than others.

1 person found this helpful