Is Deep Reading in Trouble?
“Deep reading,” or slow reading, is a sophisticated process in which people can critically think, reflect and understand the words they are looking at. With most, that means slowing down — even stopping and rereading a page or paragraph if it doesn’t sink in — to really capture what the author is trying to say.The concern that deep reading is going by the wayside is a phenomenon that author Nicholas Carr says in his book, “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” may have something to do with our use of technology and our habits while browsing the Web.It’s easy to forget the benefits of deep reading in an age where anything worth doing is done fast, Canadian author John Miedema says. We surf the Internet, gather snippets of information and click hyperlinks that bring us to different topics and authors, he says. In less than a second, we can go from reading about Beethoven the composer to watching a clip about Beethoven the St. Bernard online.“The Web is essentially a distraction machine,” Miedema says. “Hyperlinks are meant to take you away from where you are.”In his book “Slow Reading,” Miedema argues that deep reading is like the slow food movement — it takes time, care and effort to read quietly and concentrate.“I can appreciate people’s desire to read faster,” Miedema says. “But if you want to have a deep relationship with a text and understand a complex idea, then slow reading is a preferred style. It’s good for pleasure, too. It’s not a rushed experience and you can lose yourself in a text.”Barzillai is interested in the way children read and if they will learn how to read deeply as they grow up in the digital age.“Reading isn’t something we’re born with,” she says. “Your brain has to form that reading circuit. And that circuit is shaped by what you’re reading. When (adults) came to the Internet, we came with those skills and experiences that were already developed. If children learn to read primarily online and through digital media, I wonder if we are encouraging or growing a different kind of reading process.”Nora Mueller, 17, notices that when she has to do a paper for school and researches it on the Internet, she rarely reads a whole page. She primarily clicks links and scans.“I read so little about what’s actually there. I don’t feel like I absorb everything,” Mueller says. “I’ll read the beginning of a paragraph and then I’ll skip the rest.”