What is reading?

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When I teach the undergraduate introductory level course on reading instruction at our university, I pose the question to class, “What is reading?”  I usually get responses about “decoding” and “comprehension”, mostly in reference to traditional paper-based texts and Internet sources.  I then use examples to illustrate other things we “read”: advertisements, body language, television/movies, music, etc. and explain how we can use what children already know about these more familiar, natural “reading” tasks to help develop their reading skills with traditional texts.

For the past few months the “eBook“, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, has received a lot of buzz as one of the best eBooks of the year.  But, is it a book?  Some are calling it an animated short, others an eBook.  But however you define it, it is a beautiful, wordless account of Mr. Morris Lessmore and his love for books (the paper kind!).  This text is so beautiful and innovative, in fact, that it is up for an Oscar tonight.

If you ask me, I would define The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore as a book, comparable to the beautiful wordless books of David Weisner (e.g., Tuesday), Barbara Lehman (e.g., The Red Book), and Bill Thomson (e.g., Chalk).

In order to read these books, students must have well-developed inferencing skills – a strategy just as important to apply when reading wordless books as when reading more traditional books.  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore takes the wordless picture book to a whole new level, allowing its stunning illustrations to literally jump right off the pages.

I snagged the HD wordless version of this book/movie for free this morning here, and you should certainly download your copy to use in your classroom.  The book with words is currently available through the app store here for $4.99.  Either way, I’m noting this as a must-have for any child’s eBook library.







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  1. I hadn’t heard of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Thanks for the tip. Looking into it for the kids now.

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