Reading-Writing Connection


An Excerpts from a lecture by  Dr. Lourdes D. Servito

Lord Acton says: “Learn as much writing as by reading.”

Lord Acton

Lord Acton

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chose ignorance.”
–Atwood Townsend

“Reading furnishes the mind only with the materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.”
—   John Locke

In 1909, Ellen Thompson said, “My home is where my books are.”

This was affirmed by Marcus Cicero who says: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

Henri David Thoreau counsels, “Read the best books first, or you may not have the chance to read them at all.”

What are the best books for you? Do you read the bible, the greatest book?

Mortimer Adler says, “Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.”

(To become a good Christian, read the bible; to become a good writer, read literature and journalism books; to learn how to cook, read a cook book, etc.)

“It is well to read everything of something, and something of everything.”
– Lord Henry Brougham

“The true university of these days is a collection of books.”
– Thomas Carlyle

“By elevating your reading, you will improve your writing or at least tickle your thinking.”
–   William Safire

“Only a generation of readers will span a generation of writers.”
– Steven Spielberg

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
—   Mark Twain

Mark TwainMark Twain

1. Read what is written. (We can only read what has been written.)

2. Write in order to be read.  (We write something that has to be read.) If no one reads it, there
must be something wrong.

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg? (reading or writing?) The “Ten Commandments” was written by the hand of God on the stone tablets, read by Moses to the people.

“Reading maketh a full man; Conference a ready man; and Writing an exact man.”
–Francis Bacon

The connection between reading and writing is vital to all students at all ages. In Sydney, Australia, teachers employ the reading-writing connection even in the first grade. In fact, their primary reading program is a whole language program that emphasizes the reading-writing connection.

Connection with the “Real World”
The connection between reading and writing is a start to help students make connections with the “real world” experiences. When children are allowed to tie personal experiences with classroom activities,
they are more attentive and have a reason to learn the material.


Using Reading to teach Writing:
Reading and writing became curricularly linked at the turn of the century, when Harvard and other universities decide that reading literature was essential to learning to write.
Why should reading be linked to writing?


1. Reading inspires students, introducing them to great ideas and improving their ability to think critically and analytically.
2. Reading centers class discussion, giving    students something to talk about beyond their own personal experiences.
3. Reading gives students something to write about especially when they lack the experience to come up with sophisticated subjects for their essays, reading can provide these ideas for them.
4. Reading illustrates models of truly excellent writing.
5. There are certain elements of good writing that can be taught only through reading literature (the workings of metaphor, for example).

History of Connection and Separation of Reading-Writing
Nancy Nelson’s article on “The Reading-Writing Connection Viewed Historically”, chronicles the history of the relationship of reading and writing.  She points out that this relationship is an old and complex one.  By the beginning of the 20th Century, higher learning was heavily influenced by the scientific method. The scientific emphasis in education advocates divisions with disciplines and specialization for research and researchers.

The consequence of this for English studies was the separation and quantification of reading.  Reading was a subject thought to be easily quantified, and could be researched with the hope of discovering better ways in which to teach it. But because English Studies was scrambling for aspects of its discipline which could be quantified, the methods with which to teach it did not get that much attention. So at the middle of the century, there were some movements such as progressivism and peer response collaboration which had some effect in bringing the subjects of reading and writing together. With the advent of theories such as the cognitive theory, reader response, the process method, and discourse communities, the connection between reading and writing has been re-addressed.

The cognitive theory, described reading as a process of building mental meanings from textual clues.  Seen in this way, reading became very similar to the act of writing, where the reader actively constructs a meaning out of what she has read, instead of just passively absorbing the writer’s meaning.
Writing was always seen as an act that sprang from the writer’s “theory of the world”, and thus the meaning made would be influenced by that theory, but now reading was viewed in similar ways. According to Nelson, this led to more expressive writing and journal keeping within the writing classroom to reflect the importance of the relationship the reader had with the text and the world.

The writing process method was another theory that helped establish the connection between reading and writing. The most important aspect of which involved the idea that writing was recursive. As a writer writes, he continually revisits parts of his paper that have already been finished to help him with what is to come. This idea made educators realize that writers were constantly reading as they composed, and gave light on the intimate connection between reading and writing. The process method has a great influence on the writing program at Harvard State University today

The theory of Discourse Communities involves the making and sharing of meanings within a community of writers and readers. This theory recognizes that reading and writing are methods of making meaning, that reading can be subjective, but emphasizes that this meaning making does not exist wholly within the individual, but instead within and between members of a community. The connection between reading and writing was strengthened by the importance placed upon sharing writings and interpretations of these writings within a community of writers, as in a classroom.

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