In subscribing to a handful of blogs and reading websites, following hashtags on Instagram, and reading professional magazines for librarians, I spend time each day skimming or deep-reading articles and short snippets of reviews and recommendations. Several days ago, Senjuti Patra published an article “A Brief History of Reading” via Book Riot. Several passages struck me and I wanted to share my thoughts. Yes, no one asked me, but I’m going to share them anyway.
The earliest written texts were meant to be read out loud. The characters were written in a continuous stream, to be disentangled by the skilled reader when reading out loud. Punctuation was used for the first time only around 200 BCE, and was erratic well into the middle ages.
This fascinated me, but it makes sense that the development of writing taken from the oral traditions wouldn’t have been fully formed. And even now, things continue to develop and morph. It truly centered around the reader and a skilled one at that. Someone who would practice ahead of time and deliver it with gusto because it was a form of entertainment or to deliver information that anyone could understand.
Reading from a book was considered pleasant dinnertime entertainment, even in humbler homes, from the Roman times to the 19th century.
Let’s bring this back. Seriously. I’m thinking that once a week, we’ll turn off the news and instead listen to a family-friendly audiobook. What would you suggest?
Once primary education became more accessible and acceptable, younger members of the family read to the elders, in a sweet reversal of the classic grandma’s tales.
The minute I read this sentence I remembered the scenes (I’m sure they were in the book but I automatically conjured the movie in my mind) from Little Women in which Jo was heading to the home of an older relative (her great aunt?) to read and dreading it, but how important it was for the connection between generations. It allowed the youth to practice their skills and benefited the old who might have had failing eyesight but also wanted the companionship. I’m assuming technology has stepped in in some ways and someone older is just pulling an audiobook up, but what a thought that books like card games can bring everyone together.