+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy

reading

Photo via Canva, @WhattheADHD/Twitter

The 'bionic reading' font is designed to help keep you focused and read faster.

Reading is a fundamental tool of learning for most people, which is why it's one of the first things kids learn in school and why nations set literacy goals.

But even those of us who are able to read fluently might sometimes struggle with the act of reading itself. Perhaps we don't read as quickly as we wish we could or maybe our minds wander as our eyes move across the words. Sometimes we get to the end of a paragraph and realize we didn't retain anything we just read.

People with focus or attention issues can struggle with reading, despite having no actual reading disabilities. It can be extremely frustrating to want to read something and have no issues with understanding the material, yet be unable to keep your mind engaged with the text long enough to get "into" what you're reading.


But what if there were a font that could help you stay focused? That could help you not only read faster but better retain what you've just read?

That's what the creators of Bionic Reading claim is possible with their font tool."Bionic Reading revises texts so that the most concise parts of words are highlighted," the Swiss company's website reads. "This guides the eye over the text and the brain remembers previously learned words more quickly."

Give it a try:

@WhattheADHD/Twitter

The gist is that our eyes don't need to focus on the entire word because our brains can fill in the rest for us. By bolding the first part of the word, we're more quickly able to move from word to word.

"Bionic Reading aims to play a supporting role in the absorption of volume text," states the website. "We see technological progress as an opportunity for all those who want to increase the pleasure of reading in a noisy and hectic world in a focused way and without distraction."

While there are no studies cited on this method of reading, there are plenty of anecdotes about it being helpful. The example shared by @WhattheADHD on Twitter got people's attention and many people responded with enthusiasm at how much easier the bionic reading text was for them to read.

"This is amazing! I have ADHD and I didn’t even realize that I was having trouble fixating when I read," wrote one person. "My eye latches right on to the bold face. Can’t wait to try reading a book again. It’s been all audiobooks for a while."

"It's incredible how reading this feels like finally unlocking 100% of your brain," wrote another.

@juanbius/Twitter

However, not everyone was impressed or thrilled with the sample. Some people said that they had a harder time reading the bionic text or that it distracted or slowed them down. Both positive and negative responses came from a diverse pool of people. Some who described themselves as neurodivergent said that they loved it and some said it was harder. The same went for people who said they were neurotypical, so it's hard to say who this tool may specifically help the most. Everyone's brains work differently, and different people will find different things helpful.

Bionic reading might be a game-changer for some, but it's not the only tool of its kind. There are speed-reading programs that train you to stop reading each word and allow your brain to read visually instead of auditorily. There are also various methods of making reading easier by adjusting how your eyes move across the text.

For instance, check out this "space reading" technique:

@uxjavi/Twitter

Bionic Reading has a free text converter on its website that you can use to try out its font changes. A YouTube clip from the company also shows possibilities for how the font can be adjusted to individual preferences, making more or less of the initial letters bolded.

And again, if this doesn't work for you, then it's probably not made for you. For people who struggle with reading, something like Bionic Reading could make a huge difference.

Three cheers for technology being used to help people overcome difficulties and make learning easier and more efficient.


This article originally appeared on 5.30.22.

Canva

The world is full of so many cool things.

This article originally appeared on 10.05.17


Ever wondered what goes on in a library's dark corners, where you aren't allowed to go?

Wonder no more, thanks to The Society of American Archivists' Ask an Archivist Day.

On Oct. 4, 2017, university, corporate, and museum archivists around the world dug out the coolest, rarest, and weirdest items in their collections, photographed them, and put the results on Twitter.


They didn't disappoint. Here's just some of what they had in storage.

1. Small items. Very small items. Like a Bible so tiny that it has a magnifying glass with it for reading.

2. And a barely-bigger-than-a-quarter book about birds, published during the deadliest year of the Civil War.

3. Or this one of three women in West Virginia, rocking the slickest hats of 1908.

4. A folding chair used by Barack Obama.

5. Dirt from the grave of a well-known American writer.

6. A Roman-era coin, depicting either a man in a helmet or a curious understanding of human anatomy.

7. A photo of a sailor whose ship vanished in the Bermuda Triangle in 1918.

8. And one of of other World War I sailors giddily posing on top of two ginormous battleship guns.

9. A child's sketch of a groundbreaking concept car — complete with a built-in kitchen and a 300 mph top speed.

10. A legal document drawn up in 14th century France.

11. A pioneering, ultra-glittery work of feminist art.

12. A photo of fashion designer Ann Lowe, the woman who designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress.

13. A script for a rarely heard "Empire Strikes Back" radio play.

14. An image of rows and rows of classic radiator shells waiting to be installed at a Depression-era Pontiac plant.

15. A handwritten letter from Sigmund Freud.

16. Ancient technology.

17. Proof that Queen Elizabeth II is apparently a secret football fan.

18. A memo warning campus police about an upcoming Ozzy Osborne concert, citing the singer's involvement with "abuse of animals" and "alleged satanic groups."

19. And why, if you want to see more, you'll have to visit a library or archive in person.

You can happily scroll through dozens more like this using the #AskAnArchivist hashtag.

No appointment necessary.

This article originally appeared on 10.05.17

Update 10/9/2017: The headline was changed to reflect that archivists and librarians differ, in part by the type of materials handled.

Pop Culture

Awesome Twitter thread explains the surprising origins of Dr. Seuss and 'The Cat in the Hat'

It all started back in 1954 with a national quest to understand “Why can't children read?”

Wikipedia, @bpoppenheimer/Twitter

How exactly did Dr. Seuss come up with "Cat in the Hat?"

Dr. Seuss is one of the most enduring and endearing children’s books writers of all time. His work has been around for over sixty years, and while certain titles certainly fall short of today’s standards, kids continue to enjoy the unique use of wordplay, illustration style and abounding optimism of his beloved classics.

But how exactly did Dr. Seuss came up with such an impactful idea in the first place? That’s a story unto itself, and one that, much like his fictional works, still feels relevant today.

As explained in a Twitter thread by writer and research assistant Billy Oppenheimer, it all began when another award-winning author, John Hershey, started investigating the looming question of 1954: “Why can't children read?”

After two years of reading children's books, meeting with experts and observing how reading was taught in schools, Hershey ultimately came to a rather simple conclusion—children didn’t want to read, because children’s books were boring.

Even in an age pre-TikTok and Snapchat, reading had to “compete for the interest of children with television, radio, movies, comic books, magazines, and sports,” and children’s books by and large just weren’t entertaining enough to hold short attention spans in comparison to their instantly stimulating counterparts.

Henry would end up publishing his findings in an issue of “LIFE” Magazine, along with the call to action for writers to create something more compelling than what the current market provided. The article would be read by an editor at Houghton Mifflin, who would then challenge an illustrator friend of his to "Write me a story that first graders can't put down."

That illustrator was, you guessed it, Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Seuss has the added obstacle of only being able to write a story using a vocabulary list of 300 "accepted" words. So his strategy, as is with many brilliant creatives, was to just play around, combining different rhyming words until something resonated. Eventually the words “cat” and “hat” caught his attention…

…And in 1957, we’d have “The Cat in the Hat,” a blockbuster of a book that used 236 unique words, which Hershey himself hailed as a "masterpiece" and a "gift to the art of reading." It would also remain the book that Seuss was proudest of, "because [it] proved to a number of million kids that reading is not a disagreeable task.”

A lack of interest in reading, particularly reading for pleasure, is still a widely discussed topic among parents and educators. And much like in Dr. Seuss’ time, an overwhelming amount of competing tech-media is largely to blame. A 2021 survey from Common Sense Media revealed that in just two years after the pandemic (between 2019 and 2021) kids ages 8 to 18 increased their time on social media 17 percent, amounting to somewhere between a little more than five and half hours to just over eight and half hours a day.

We might not be able to grab even shorter attention spans with rhyming tales of Whoville, but we can still take a page from Dr. Seuss’ book by making reading seem more “interesting.” Perhaps it entails a wider selection of book titles, or joining forces with the power of social media to form communities like #BookTok to make reading still feel fresh and modern—these are two strategies that have already proven successful. Or perhaps it'll be something altogether different.

The solution might not be completely solidified, but like Dr. Seuss, we have to maintain a curious spirit and incorporate a sense of play in our approach. Keeping something fun is akin to keeping something alive more often than not. Take it from the guy who brought us Grinches and Loraxes and Whovians that still lift our spirits today.

Speaking of reading, if you care to check out Seuss’ biography, which Oppenhemier cited in his thread, you can find it here.

Grace Linn, 100, speaks at a Martin County School Board meeting on March 21, 2023.

Four hundred years ago, copies of William Tyndale’s English translation of the Bible were publicly burned by the bishop of London, with church authorities insisting that the Bible should only be read in Latin (and only by the clergy). In the centuries since, many books we now consider classics such as Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe," Jack London's "Call of the Wild," Walt Whitman’s "Leaves of Grass," Victor Hugo’s "Les Misérables, Charles Darwin’s "Origin of Species"—even Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and "Benjamin Bunny"—have been banned or censored in one way or another in various countries.

Battles over books are nothing new, but once in a while, they become particularly ugly or absurd, prompting people to speak out against book bans.

People like 100-year-old Florida resident, Grace Linn, whose speech at a Martin County School Board meeting has gone viral.


Author Jody Picoult, whose books have been in the crosshairs of the school district's book policy that saw 92 titles pulled from shelves for removal or review, shared the video to her TikTok channel where it's gotten a wave of supportive responses.

"I am Grace Linn. I am 100 years young," the centenarian began. "I'm here to protest our schools' district book-banning policy."

Linn explained that her husband, Robert Nickel, was killed in action in World War II at age 26.


"One of the freedoms that the Nazis crushed was the freedom to read the books they'd banned," she said. "They stopped the free press, banned and burned books." She went on to say that the right to read is an essential right guaranteed by the First Amendment, yet it is continually under attack "by both public and private groups who think they hold the truth."

Linn shared that she made a quilt last year, at age 99, in response to the book bans taking place around the country and in Martin County. Each quilt square shows a stack of books with titles of books that have been banned and targeted, including "Harry Potter," "A Wrinkle in Time," "Of Mice and Men," "Beloved" and more. The quilt's purpose, she said, was "to remind all of us that these few of so many more books that are banned and targeted need to be proudly displayed and protected—and read, if you choose to."

Linn said that burning books and banning books is done for the same reason: fear of knowledge.

"Fear is not freedom. Fear is not liberty. Fear is control. My husband died as a father of freedom. I am a mother of liberty."

Watch:

@jodipicoultbooks

I am so inspired by everyone who spoke up against book bánning at the Martin County School Board meeting today, including Grace Linn. Grace is, in her words, “100 years young.” She spoke about witnessing the rise of fascism during WWII, about losing her husband to the war when he was 26, and about protecting our freedom to read. Thank you, Grace, for reminding us that this is a part of history we must not repeat.

People loved Linn's passionate defense of the freedom to read books, calling her an "inspiration," a "hero" and a "helluva woman" in the comments.

Naturally, different people have different opinions about what books are appropriate for different ages, what should be required vs. voluntary reading and what kids should be shielded from. That's the whole point. Librarians have long been trusted to curate generally age-appropriate material for children's libraries and parents have always had the final say in what they allow their children to read, but laws such as the one passed in Florida are attempting to exert more control over what books are available. Not helping matters is that the law is vague and there has been a great deal of confusion as to whether educators could face felony charges for having offending material in their classrooms. Especially when offending material includes anything considered "critical race theory," which could theoretically include any books that talk about racism in American history realistically.

Banning books requires setting subjective criteria for problematic material, and as we've seen with many of the book-banning policies, that criteria can easily stretch into ridiculousness. Who decides and by what measure are the questions that book bans leave on the table. Thank you, Grace Linn, for standing up for the freedom to decide for ourselves what we and our kids get to read.