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85. “It’s Not What You Read, It’s How Much You Read” with Dr. Danny Brassell

by Lindsay Lyons
September 13th 2022
In today's episode, we are talking with speaker, trainer, coach, and author Dr. Danny Brassell about his reading engag... More
today on the podcast, I'm talking to dr Danny Brazell, highly sought after speaker trainer and coach known as jim Carey with a PhD doctor. Danny brazil has spoken over 3500 audiences worldwide and authored 16 books, including his latest leadership begins with motivation. He is the co founder of the reading habit dot com, the world's Top reading engagement program. My conversation with Dr. Brussel was November 8, 2021 for reference. Now let's dive in and listen to Dr. Brussels conversation, educational justice coach lindsey Lyons and here on the time for teacher ship podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings. If you're a principal Assistant superintendent, curriculum director, instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nursing out about co creating curriculum students, I made this show for you.

Here we go so much, I'm really excited for our conversation today. And so I'll just start by asking, you know, I just read your professional bio and sometimes people feel like, you know, there's all the professional accolades and accomplishments and and things within that bio. But if you kind of distill down to who you are and what you want, people to know about you as a person. How would you introduce yourself to listeners in that way. Well, humility is key to me Lindsay. Uh I injured my trump finger a couple of weeks ago I was mowing the lawn and it got clogged and I went to unclog it, forgetting that the lawnmower was already operating. And so I chopped off my finger and uh, I've been going to doctors for the last month and a half. It's been driving me crazy and then it got infect, you know, I have a heart catheter and I realized the importance of good health and grinning and bearing it. So I think if there's something that people have to know about me is I ain't all that. It's actually, it's something I used to always tell my students like you ain't all that and neither am I. And I always tell people if you think you're all that teach kindergarten for one week, those little ones will set you straight.

Oh my gosh, what a story. I'm so glad you're like on the recovery end of that. And yeah. Oh my gosh, kindergartners and kids in general. I feel like they will tell it like it is absolutely, they have no tact filter. It's wonderful. I once had a little girl and she asked me if I was all right and I'm like, yeah, I'm fine. She's like, well somebody forgot to tell your face and I'm like, okay, I'll smile more. Oh my goodness. I love kids. Oh my gosh, well that'll that'll be a nice segue into thinking about education system and as educators, you know, Pitino dr Bettina love talks about freedom, dreaming as dreams grounded in the critique of injustice. And so as she's talking about painting these big dreams and holding these big hopes for the field of education and you know what school is like for us all. I really like this idea of grounding them in the critique of injustice. And so I'm curious with that kind of framing what is the big dream that you hold for the field of education? That's a great, huge question Lindsay. I mean, I I I think that one of the things we strive for in America is the wrong thing.

We're always striving for equality and I don't believe in striving for equality. I believe in striving for fairness. You know, I think it's unfair to treat everybody equally. Some kids don't need much attention, some kids need a lot of extra attention and there's, I'm a person that there's some, some people look at the glass is half empty and then you get the people look at it as half full. I look at it as it's overflowing. If you look at it from the right point of view to me, the pandemic may have been the greatest signal thing to happen education in 100 and 50 years because now people like you and me are forced to learn how to use this thing called or whatever kind of technology and I get really excited Lindsay because right now there's some kid that may not have had breakfast, that's on a dirt floor right now and some impoverished place in the world even could even be in America and as long as that kid has a laptop and an internet connection, they have the exact same access as the head of google, the world's just got a whole lot smaller.

You don't have to be born in new york city anymore to have a huge impact on the world and I'm excited about this next generation because right now there are kids out there that normally would be disenfranchised that are going to have tremendous opportunities and doors open for them. So my view of education is fairness. I, I've been actually focusing a lot of my work, my company, we're working a lot with develop countries throughout africa, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. I was before the pandemic, I spoke to a school of about 5000 girls in Chennai India and these two beautiful young women come up to me afterwards, both with huge grins, One wants to be a doctor, other one wants to be a lawyer. I said that's great, are you going to go to university here in India or maybe you'll go to great Britain of the United States and they're like, oh We can't leave India were girls, I'm like get back in that auditorium, got them all back in and I'm like, now is your moment ladies, I mean within the next five years India is going to be the largest country on the planet in terms of population, I mean you're very young democracy, you're just over 70 years old yet you've already elected a woman prime minister.

America still hasn't elected a woman president. I'm like right now, there are twice as many women in India as there are people in the United States. There are actually more women in India with a graduate degree than there are people in the United States. And I looked at all those young women. I said, hey, you just made it my, my mission, like the next ceo, the next world leader, the next really good parent is coming out of this audience. Don't let anybody ever tell you what you can't do. It's something I've always told my students and sometimes you need somebody else to believe before you believe in yourself, I believe in all of you. They only give me the best and the brightest, let's have those high expectations and you know, the world is our oyster. I love that reframe. Yeah. Like let's, let's think about the fact that India has elected a female prime minister, huge over what has been happening here and I love that re frame and re conceptualization of often how we might think of people in the United States are very us centric and how we might think about other countries and I really appreciate that that you named that as kind of like this, this pivot of, let's reframe, let's think about this and so I think reframing and this, this idea of mindset shifts are huge and critical to fighting for that dream of fairness as you as you spoke about.

And so I'm curious to know like what are those mindset shifts that either students or educators or anyone who's in the field of education could really benefit from if we just shifted our mind around this, this, this key thing, you know, how do we get closer to fairness or what does that look like to be able to shift to get there? You ask questions, I appreciate that. Well, I believe to me my definition of happiness is progress, constant growth, I constantly have to grow. So me personally, I I'm a visiting distinguished professor at the american University in Cairo and so again before the pandemic, I was at the university but I love to speak to two schools in the area when I, when I'm there and uh I was booked to speak at a whole bunch of muslim schools and there was this one um Islamic school, I was at at two in the afternoon doing a parent training, 400 parents Lindsay showed up at two in the afternoon for my training and it was like the muslim brotherhood, all the guys had the long beards and all the women were wearing burkas and we were talking like you and I are talking right now and that was a great moment for me because I said shame on me!

I had all these preconceptions and I realized they actually turned out to be one of my greatest audiences ever because you know, and I know my my passion is getting people to love reading an and so I I I started off my presentation, I said I was reading this book, if any of you ever read the korean and they all laughed, I'm like oh well then you know the story in the korean where the Angel Gabriel appears to Muhammad in the cave, what's his first instruction of Mohammed? Because the first pillar of Islam is to read. And so I looked at the parents, I said so not only should we get your kids reading, it's actually written in your holiest of text, that it's your duty to get your kids reading and all of a sudden everybody's not and I'm like this is my dream audience, they're listening to everything I'm saying. And I think that's what I want with education is uh U. C. L. A basketball coach john wooden won 10 national championships in 12 years. One of my favorite quotes, he said he had lots of great wisdom, encourage all of your listeners to read his book, they call me coach, one of the best books I've ever read, but he he always said that it's the things you learn after, you know it all that make the biggest difference.

And I think we're in a society right now it cracks me up how smart everybody is, everybody knows everything. And I I think I take the opposite approach is I really don't know much. The older I get, the more I realize I don't know anything. Uh And working you know I've taught all age levels. I started off as a secondary teacher and then they got me from high school to middle school to upper elementary to lower elementary to pretty soon instead of preparing kids for college. I was coming home with snot marks all over my pants from the little ones hugging me all day and I learned that little kids are incredible the way they look at the world and we ignore them. We pay them very little attention and we should really pay a lot more attention because they look at the world in a totally different way. I'll give you two examples at little girl Maria five years old, she raises her hand one day and said mr Purcell, where does it say humpty dumpty is an egg. And I laughed and I start reading the nursery rhyme and I'm like it doesn't know where in that nursery rhyme.

Doesn't say humpty dumpty is an egg but there's always a picture of an egg. How did I miss that? You know a little six year old Tyrell Tyrell Tyrell raises a hand in one day. He's like tyrell. He's like Miss Miss Miss, Miss L is curious George a monkey or an ape and I laughed until I reread the book. I mean, have you read curious George lindsey? Alright, what does the man in the yellow hat call? Curious George? He always calls him my little monkey. Well where's his tail? Curious George doesn't have a tail because he's not a monkey. He's a chimpanzee. I've read that book 3000 times, missed it every time Tyrell got it the very first time. That's why if I'm ever murdered, I want a first grader on the scene, not my wife. You know, first grade would be like, he's approximately six ft tall, dark jacket, dark pants. My wife would be like, I don't know, I think he's this tall, I think he's white, you know, kids are much more observant than adults in many ways and I just, that's what I love about education. I I think we, we take the curiosity out of kids like at least in the United States, I swear we find out what kids like and we make sure we take it out of the curriculum and we find out what they hate and we make it mandatory and you and I are both readers Lindsay and what always disturbs me is when I read biographies of successful people, they usually have one thing in common, they dropped out of school and I'm like, what's that say about the way we're educating people and it kind of gets to, you know, I'm going on a tangent, but really what your questions asking, like how do we fix education?

I'm like, there's not one answer, there's 38 answers, you know, when people ask me, oh, should should we put them in a public school or private school or a charter school or a magnet school or home school? My answer is this yes, It depends on the kid, you know, different strokes for different folks. What works with this kid might not work with this kid, The job of education is to cater to the kid, not to cater to the institution. You know, it might be easier to have 30 kids listening to the teacher directly, but that might, that might not be the best way to, to reach that kid, wow, so many great points there. I just want to know this is so great. I just want to highlight, you know, I love the idea of recognizing that we don't, we don't know everything and like I love that you even said, like, I don't know anything like that humility that you, that you brought up at the top of the episode, but then also that commitment to a lifelong learning, I think came back when you were talking about the like autobiographies of successful people and thinking about, yes, they dropped out of, but they're also committed to their own personal growth and learning and so how do we cultivate that?

And kids? I also love the point of, you know, we totally take out the curiosity and the lens with which kids view the world and, and kids come in loving learning. Like most people love to learn and then we kind of like get it out of them by the time that they reach us. So as a former secondary teacher, I will say, you know, some things are actually easier, that you wouldn't think would be easier in primary grade because they still have that curiosity and ability to see things differently. So when I came into my class and I was like, all right, we're gonna have a unit where you just tell me what you want to learn about and we're gonna each have, you know, everyone doing a different unit. I actually got resistance from the students because they were like, no, you're the teacher Miss. I have been in school for years now and I know how this thing is done and if you tell me what to do when I do it and how heartbreaking right? Like if we could bring that curiosity back, you know, we should never get rid of it in the first place. You got me, I'm a baptist in your front row right now. Amen preach to the choir.

I mean, why was it my kindergarteners would go to bed with their backpacks on because they were so excited to get back to school the next day. Whereas my middle schoolers were thinking of ways to get sick what happened in those eight years to get that kid to hate school so much. I mean if I'm doing my job, my kids should be banging on my classroom door at five in the morning. They're so excited to get in there and they should be in tears when they hear that final bell because they don't want to leave. I mean that's a big deal to me is I want, I want school, not really school. I shouldn't say school, I want learning to be something that is a lifetime addiction. It's a habit. You don't need me to tell you to be curious. I want you constantly, we'd, I think we'd all be better served if people are asking why all the time, you know, in education, one of the frustrating things for me as, as both a teacher and an administrator is just a lot of, you know, mandatory policies. I've gotten fired so many times because I'm, I annoy my, my superiors because I always say if the answer to the question is not because that's what serves the child the best.

Why are we doing it? I'm not doing this because of the state or the federal government tells me to do it. I'm doing it because it helps this kid and if we're missing that we're really, we can't see the forest through the trees and I just think that there's a whole makeover that we have to, you know, but I think there's opportunities I have. I have a lot of faith and hope I'm not, I'm not one of these, you know, Debbie downers, I see all kinds of amazing things happening all the time. I, I love that as a transition point to to the next question of yes, like, so we have the hope, we have the vision, we know what mindset shifts are needed and then what does that look like for a person who's listening and thinking, okay, I'm ready to do this. I'm ready to bring back that curiosity. I'm ready to center fairness in, in my lesson plans or my school policy. What does that actually look like in terms of, what are the steps that educators or family members or anyone really can take to be able to make this kind of dream that we've been kind of cultivating throughout the episode so far come true.

I love where you're going with this Lindsay. I mean, I think we overcomplicate way too much in american education, you know, and this is going to be self serving. That's my, my company, my online reading engagement program. That's why I created it. So basically I always tell people, I think schools do an adequate job of teaching kids how to read. But the question I always ask people is what good is it teaching people how to read if they never want to read, you know I teach kids why to read because I've never had to tell a kid, you know go watch tv, I've never had to tell a kid, go play a video game and I never want to have to tell a kid, go read a book. I want them to choose to do it on their own because they enjoy doing it. And so my reading engagement program is basically designed for for teachers and for most importantly parents and every day they receive a quick little video for me about 5 to 7 minutes every day giving them a tip on how To get their kids excited about reading at home and what we're trying to do is to get the kid to read for at least 20 minutes a day at home, they don't have to be consecutive and if you read aloud to them, those minutes count as well, you know, and we find that after just about two months kids that go through our program have boosted their reading abilities by about 2-3 grade levels, which is great.

That's all fine and good. But that's not what gets me excited. What gets me excited is that no matter how bad a school can be, I've properly on that kid so that they're constantly going to be curious and read the rest of their lives out of school and the research is really, it's really very conclusive on this, it doesn't matter what you read, what matters is how much you read. People who read more read better. You know, it doesn't matter if you're reading James Joyce or James and the giant peach, I always tell parents, the little boy who only reads Captain Underpants is going to be a much better reader than the little boy who refuses to read anything. I mean to me, Captain Underpants is the gateway drug to Shakespeare, but you got to get them hooked and that's what I'm constantly doing as a teacher, as a parent, as a as a principal, I'm looking for what what turns this kid. I mean I when I was teaching second grade, I had a little boy kiara, I I spent most of my career in South Central Los Angeles. And um I had a little boy, Kiara and Kiara is first grade teacher told me, Chiara don't know nothing like thank you, thank you Kiara who don't know, nothing comes in my room one day he's like, hey Mr Purcell, you see Bakley last night he had 18 points, 16 rebounds.

And like thank you kiara because from that point forward, every day after lunch I'd sit Kr on my lap and he and I would read the L. A. Times sports section together and by the end of the year, Kr was one of my top readers and all that kid ever read about was football and basketball and he was interested in sports, but now that he's identified himself as a good reader, he's a confident reader. None of us do things where we feel uncomfortable. Always love that people, I'm like, no, no, no. Humans are very predictable. Humans avoid situations where they might look stupid and uh my policy build up that confidence make a person, you know, it's like one of my favorite movies of all time is dumbo. You know, I've got to give them the magic feather, but you always had it within you. But again, so many of us, we, we've been told bad things, you know, I've been blessed Lindsay my wife is from Singapore. She grew up in an environment where people were telling her her entire life what she could not do.

Whereas I have a photograph of me when I was four years old, I'm wearing space boots, a san Diego chargers, Jersey, a sheriff's badge and a fireman's helmet because I was gonna be the first ever astronaut, professional football player, police officer and firefighter. I mean that's the world I grew up in and I think every kid should be entitled to growing up in a world like that, wow! Yes. Oh my gosh, I love, I love the dream, I love the four year old picture that I'm now imagining in my head, this is lovely. And then, yeah, thinking about the program, specifically your program. And then also just a call for for everyone, no matter what program they're using to be talking about, why to read. And also like that, that variance of, there are so many things we could be reading, right? Like you can totally read the sports section. I think about all of the people who I know now as adults who are avid readers that hated english class or they hated school in general because it was a very prescribed way of reading and they never identified As a reader until you know, their 30s or 40s, you know, and so there's so many folks who just have this love and passion for reading that wasn't even cultivated until years after college and that's terrifying to me that we're, that we're doing that in our system to kids.

So true lindsey, I mean, if you really want to get a kid to hate reading, tell them exactly what they have to read and then make them do a book report on it. I mean, I remember in high school I was forced to read the Scarlet letter by nothing Daniel hawthorne and no offense to the people that love the scarlet letter. I mean that's fine that you love that basically it's the story of Hester Prynne has committed adultery, so she has to wear an A on her chest. And I raised my hand and asked my teacher if I could wear a b on my chest because I was so bored reading that book, you know, and why is that literature? Why, why is that literature and Sports illustrated is not literature maybe 200 years from now, people will be like, oh, you haven't read frank Deford's columns on the new England patriots. I mean that was very important back in the late 20th century. I mean, who's to say that? You know, who's not to say that Nathaniel hawthorne when he wrote the scarlet letter, People like, oh, that's just trash man. He's just that, I mean that's really, that's trashy stuff.

I mean, who's to say it's, it's like when I hear people talk about culture, you know, it's only culture to go to the philharmonic, but not to the monster truck pulling. Like they're both cultural, it's just however you wanted to find culture. I mean, it doesn't mean one's better than the other. I don't like that snooty point of view. I I think that, well, I mean, you've got it from me. The research again is very clear on this. It doesn't matter what you read, what matters is how much you read. I mean, I'm a lazy reader. And so one of my uh about 2003, I created one of the, it's one of the top reading programs online called lazy readers dot com. It's a free subscription if you subscribe once a month for the rest of your life, you get 10 book recommendations, three or four adult level three or four, young adult level and three or four Children's level books, all of 250 pages? So you have something you can read when you're stuck in a meeting or waiting in line because people always say I have no time to read them. I'm like yeah, who has time to read after you watch the game on tv have a couple of beers, go out shopping.

I mean, you know, I always tell parents my kids ain't stupid, they ain't gonna read, they don't see us reading. You know, if mom's smoking all the time or dad smoking all the time, I'm gonna tell you there's a very high likelihood the kid's gonna be a smoker. Um you know, with kids are paying attention. All this is why I always tell people, no matter what you do, you're always a teacher and a role model doesn't you don't have to have the definition of a teacher. Kids are paying attention constantly. That's what's driving me nuts about society right now. Like politics, people see the way politicians talk to one another and I'm like, let's get rid of the politics and really focus again on public service. Like why aren't you doing anything to help people? You know why to me, I don't understand why it's a political education, A political issue. Why not? Every kid that wants to get a college education in this country, can't get a college education. I mean to me, if you're poor, but you want to go to Harvard, we should make sure that that kid has the ability to go to Harvard.

Now. They can pay it back. We can create like a domestic peace corps where they pay it back in service or something like that were paid back. Whatever. Same thing with healthcare. I mean when I had this stupid finger, I was bleeding to death. I'm gonna remake every little house on the prairie. And what I'm gonna do is on my episode of Little House on the Prairie, Laura goes to visit the town doctor, but before the doctor watches her, she's bleeding to death in the waiting room, filling out disclaimers and waivers. Because that's what I'm like, what happened to just customer service. I mean, why can't anybody? And then when I was there, there was a guy and he, he was not, he was, I have health insurance. There was a guy of limited means and he had a stack of $100 bills to pay for and I'm like, this is disgusting. Anybody gets hurt should be able to go. I mean, why is this a political issue? Let's look at public service. How can we make our country better Get rid of the politics? Let's see how we can serve people talking about wasting money. My God, you know, I could say education. I could save you $5 billion dollars a year if we just got rid of standardized testing, I promise.

You know, standardized test has ever produced a better leader in this world. Matter of fact, most of the leaders that support these standardized tests couldn't pass the standardized tests. I'm sorry. I'll get off my soapbox. It's just driving me nuts. The negativity in the world where there's so many possibilities out there. Absolutely not. I'm just nodding along right? Like these are not political issues that you're naming right. They are human rights issues. And like let's, let's serve people right. Let's, let's do a good. So yes, I am. I am there with you. And I think there's so many exciting things that you talked about and you kind of just layered in there. So like lazy reader dot com sounds like an awesome like suggestion. Yeah. For books and, and I think about when I lived in new york city, I actually commuted probably like, you know, an average new york city commuters like an hour, one way to wherever, even if it's just like two miles down the road. So, so I think that was the time when I read so much. My first job, I had usually like a five hour round trip. Like I read the entire game of Thrones series in one school year, You know, so I think sometimes we don't realize that we have that time where we complain about the commute or whatever it is and it's like, oh, if we only popped in an audio book, like you said, the reading a lot or being read to is, is equally valuable.

And so reading a book or reading aloud, there are so many ways we can get information and learn. I mean I'm obviously a fan of podcasts. I think that's another way. Um, but I wanted to name two. I really resonated with when you were talking about the book that you didn't like being scarlet, the scarlet letter for me, it was catcher in the Rye. I have basically hated the idea of a cannon ever since I was told to read catcher in the Rye, I was like, this is the worst book. Like I just can't even and I think about that constantly today as a, as an educator and thinking about what we prescribed to kids or what we even present on the bookshelf for kids to kind of roam through and pick out. There's often not, you know, graphic novels, there's often not fantasy novels. There's often things that like my friends as adults are really interested in and would have read, you know, a lot of if they were presented those options as kids. And I just think, you know, for the educators listening or the families listening who could kind of curate bookshelves or take kids to libraries and go to your public library.

You don't even need to own the book right to be able to go to the different sections and present all of these options. Sounds like just such a meaningful way to encourage kids to be able to get, get the book that they are interested in in their hands and and start reading, right? I mean, you're exactly right. I mean, I love jane Austen but why is jane Austin more considered more literature than frank Herbert's Dune? I mean dunes an incredible book. I mean, I know science fiction is one of the best ways, best ways to get a lot of kids. You know, who's that, that that welfare mom, Joanne, Kathleen Rowling, who wrote a series of books about a little boy wizard by the name of harry potter, you know, which has been the most banned book in America for the last 25 years. And thank goodness because there's no way we should allow young Children to stand outside a bookstore at midnight waiting to buy a 900 page book that they want to read in two days. I mean, what's society coming to? I mean, I like to remind my friends that have the problem with harry potter without harry potter. You don't get the renewed interest in the Chronicles of Narnia. Kids have this amazing thing between their ears.

We should let them use it from time to time. We shouldn't censor any books from kids. I mean, I like, again now I'm a parent, you know, there's obviously, I don't believe, I believe kids have the rest of their lives to be miserable. I want them laughing when they're with me. So I like things that are positive and encouraging, you know, but that doesn't mean that eventually you're gonna want to get into some deeper thing. I mean you just mentioned game of throws. I mean George r r martin is not like a happy feeling kind of author. I mean anytime you, anytime I start to get interested in the book, he kills a different stark and I'm like, my goodness. So, uh, you know, but this is what I love. And I love that you provide this forum Lindsay, I mean that you and I can have this kind of discussion. I mean, I hear so many useless discussions out there. I'm like, I'm much more interested in what what turns people on to what the because it's funny catcher in the rye was the first book that actually got me to laugh out loud when I was a kid. So I liked it. But I love that you hated it. I mean that's a good discussion. That's what we need to do is say, well, this is why I liked it. This is why I didn't like it. That's, we need to have those discussions. This is when we're talking about politics to say it's one of the big lessons I'm trying to teach kid.

It's all right to disagree. What's not all right is to be disagreeable, Be respectful of one another. You don't have to agree with me and my wife and I disagree all the time. It doesn't mean we don't love and respect one another. You know, I think one of the biggest problems we have in America is we don't teach people to talk about sex and politics and religion. I'm like that's the wrong lesson. The right lesson is to teach people how to talk about those things in a respectful way, you know, so that we don't have these screaming matches that I see all the time. I mean what kind of modeling? I actually wrote a letter to the L. A. Times. They didn't publish it because they're dumb, but they had accused the president and congress of behaving like Children. And I wrote in my letter, I'm like that is such an insult to Children, you know, because kids get over it. You know, the thing I love about little kids is kids will get in a fight and 10 minutes later like this is my best friend, you know, and I love that it's adults that hold these grudges. We can learn a lot from kids if we pay attention to them, wow, that's a really powerful message. That is such a powerful message.

And I love that they that you wrote that letter, I'm really sad, they didn't publish it. But that's such a great point, right? Um, and actually I, I think that probably transitions nicely into the next thing I want to ask about. So as people are kind of listening to this episode and they're they're taking in all of the various ideas that that you shared and all the different resources that you shared as they think about, you know, how do I really live in alignment with this commitment to fairness and this this value of who I who I want to be when I show up and I want to model and I want to, you know, show kids that I read to and and all of these things. What is one thing that would be a good starting point for someone who as they're ending the episode and thinking about like what's my next step to really start this kind of way of being as an educator or a parent or family member um to kind of model this stuff, what would you suggest? So, I wanted to give all of your listeners a presence, so if they go to free reading training dot com, again, free reading training dot com, I'm gonna give you all a complimentary copy of my book, read lead and succeed. It's a book I wrote for a school principal who was trying to keep his faculty positively engaged.

So I said, okay, I'll write you a book. So every week I give you a concept, an inspirational, quote, an inspirational story, a book recommendation on a book you should read, but you're probably too lazy because you're an adult. So I also give you a Children's picture book recommendation that demonstrates the exact same concept, You can read that in five minutes. I mean, I've always thought that Mother Goose and Aesop's fables. They tell us a lot of the morals, A lot of the most important lessons we learned when we were we're when we were little kids. Um And I'm also gonna provide um some trainings that I do with parents to get their kids excited about reading. I mean there's basic things. The reason I I told you 20 minutes a day is researchers were trying to figure out what makes kids successful. They were looking for common habits and traits and they found one which startled them and it was the number of minutes spent reading outside school. They looked at the low kids, the average kids and the high kids, they saw that the low kids and about the 20th percentile average less than a minute a day of reading outside of school? Well that's not a surprise.

That's probably why the kids are at the bottom of their class. This is what actually startled the researchers though. They looked at the kids in the middle of the class, the 70th percentile. The c students, the average students, they averaged 9.6 minutes a day reading outside of school. So when I'm doing a live training, this is one of the first parent hand raises and they say, well, wait a sec, are you saying if I can get my kid to read 10 minutes a day at home, I can take them from an F to a C. That's exactly what I'm saying. The research is actually pretty conclusive on this but But totally floored. Researchers were the kids near the top of the class in the 90th%ile. Do they spend three hours a day reading outside of school? No. Do they spend one hour a day outside of school? No, the average was just over 20 minutes a day. That's what I'm showing parents to do 20 minutes a day. You know? So like if you're, you already gave a great example, like if you're commuting to and from school for it takes you 10 minutes each way. Just put in an audio book. You just covered your 20 minutes that way. And that's a great way to keep kids. I don't know about you Lindsay but like on my exercise bike, I love the TV show billions.

And so I only allow myself to watch the show billions while I'm on the bike. You know, you can do the same thing with like your podcast. Oh, this is my happy time. I listened to Lindsay's podcast when I do my daily walk. I listened to the catcher in the rye I or the scarlet letter when I do this. Something that that is good. Um, and then you know, I always tell parents that the research is also very clear that being read aloud to is just as well as doing it on your own. I mean people don't realize over over half of Fortune 500 ceos are dyslexic and dyslexics actually are better auditory learners. And so that's one of the things that they do is they listen much better than most of us. And so that's a great way if if you, I mean and people have to understand all reading disabilities are curable and dyslexia is probably the most undiagnosed reading disability out there. But uh you know, people from George Washington to tom cruise, I mean there's a lot of success to richard Branson. These are all people successful in their fields that were dyslexic.

Um and then you know, probably the best tip I give to parents is President and Bush sr over 30 years ago signed a very important law in this country. It says every television set in America has to have closed captioning. I always tell this appearance turn the closed caption on the tv. It's instant print in the home and people say what he said. If the shows in english and the subtitles are in english, what good does that do? I'm like, That's a good point. Let me make a point. Have you ever watched the show with subtitles and not looked at those words on screen, it's very difficult to do. Your brain is oriented towards the text and there's actually research that supports this. If you look at reading scores around the world, the more kids watch tv, the lower their reading scores are in every country of the world except for one, the country that watches the most Tv also has the highest reading scores in the world. It's Finland and how can this be? Well Finland makes really bad Tv shows and so what they do is they import all these old american sitcoms like Happy Days in Gilligan's Island and the brady bunch, they subtitle them all and finished, the kids are constantly reading.

So that's the easiest quick fix for everybody. So these are just some simple tips that anybody can do. But again, what we're trying to do is to get kids excited about reading when you're driving, when you're on that train, you know you've been pointing to signs. So what you know play I spy with a kid um get them reading that way. Get reading is all around us but you gotta make it fun. This is the secret to all education. I mean now more than ever because we're competing against a lot of things but you can make it fun. I see teachers every single day that take extraordinary extraordinarily boring content and they make it engaging, you know, and one of the easiest things I do with my kids is I have three kids of my own is when I read to them in bed, if I'm reading them a boring story, we'll play a game where they're like you know, read it like a pirate, like a pirate and so I read a page. So I read it like a pirate and they're laughing and read it like a robot, we just have fun with it that way. They're still getting the experience even with the lame text. So those are some quick, quick tips. I love those tips and it's funny, I actually, I've been trying to teach myself spanish and I've been turning on the spanish captions for the spanish show and I'm like, okay, so I'm hearing the audio, but I'm really also reading and practicing my reading in another language.

I'm glad the research backs up, That's a good idea. Excellent. So one of the things that I want to ask and I always ask at this at the end of the show because I just, I think it's so fun to to know and you kind of self described as a lifelong learner or someone who's constantly, you know, not knowing anything and continuing to brought that. So I'm curious to know what's something that you have been learning about lately. Gosh, what am I even learning about lately? Well, the so the book I'm writing right now. So the last book I wrote was called Leadership begins with motivation and this was interesting. I read it after I wrote it and completely unintentional. This is like an homage to paul harvey, I grew up listening to paul harvey on the radio. He he passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 325 years old. But when I was a kid, he'd come on the radio at 12 15 every day and be like I'm paul harvey with the rest of the story and he tells you these stories and you're constantly at the edge of your seat trying to figure out who or what he's talking about. And so when I was a middle school teacher, I was the first teacher at my school never to have any tardies because I always started my class with paul Harvey store and the kids always wanted to hear it.

But a lot of those are about, you know, like the founding of Sears Roebuck, well, a kid in 2021 doesn't know what Sears or Roebuck is that, you know, So I wanted to update it with, with people like Elon musk and Jeff Bezos and and companies that the kids are, you know, the founding of google and Youtube. Um but after I read the book, I'm like holy cow, completely unintentionally. Almost all of my examples in this book are white male americans. That and that was not intentional and I'm like, huh, that's interesting. And so the book I'm writing right now is all about, you know, females, international people and minorities and I'm having a ton of fun doing that. And so like I'm always looking for inspirational stories. So I was writing this one about these two women Martha and ag they were both successful choreographers and Agnes had just opened her third play on broadway and it was doing all right with audiences but the critics just destroyed her for it. And so she was going to close down the production and so she, she tells Martha, you know, I don't think I can do this anymore.

And Martha's like, no, you have to, you know, it's not for anybody else to decide what your work is, it's not even for you to decide, but if you close down this play the world to lose it forever, because there's only one you there's only going to ever be one of you and she gave Agnes the confidence that she needed. Now Martha was Martha Graham who is known as the Mother of modern dance, she won the Kennedy center honors in the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Agnes, her friend was Agnes de Mille who became the she won all those accolades as well. She became the first woman that had three successful musicals on broadway at the same time and she decided she wasn't gonna close down the musical, she had just choreographed, she just changed the name to Oklahoma, you know, it's it's stories like that, I mean I live for stories like that, that's why I stopped watching the news actually, the one thing I watch on tv is Cbs sunday Morning greatest show ever. They have all these great inspirational stories, it makes you happy to be a human uh you know, as opposed to that horrible show on tv.

I watch every now and then called the news, it just puts me in a depressed mood, you know, you don't see positive things. I want to, I want things that lift me and that's why I love sports. My wife's like why are you so into sports and like cause honey at any given moment, something extraordinary can happen. And that's what I'm living. That's why the olympics. The olympics. I don't I don't even usually root for America anymore at the olympics and I was like, why aren't you writing for american? Like who am I gonna root for? The american with the microchip in his Nikes? Or the barefoot sudanese refugee who just survived the civil war and you know, they do the back background story on him. He's like, oh I learned how to run when I was running away from the bullets, you know, and I'm like, of course I'm rooting for that guy, it's incredible. But that's all americans love the underdog. I always like root for the underdog. So again, long answer to your short question. So what I'm learning about right now is I've really been researching about people, extraordinary people from around the world, really focused on women, focused on minorities. Uh and it's really especially important because a lot of the audiences I'm speaking to, you know, if I'm in Egypt a little kid in Egypt needs to hear about somebody that was once a little kid in Egypt that became successful.

I mean, I was just watching an interview with Abba, the founders of Abba and I didn't realize how tough it was at the time for Swedish rock band to become a hit. They're like, oh, it's very easy if you're american or british, but it wasn't so very, so very easy if you were Swedish, like, oh, that's interesting, I didn't know that. Um so I think kids everywhere, people all ages, but definitely kids need to hear those positive stories, so that's what I'm learning, that's amazing, and I so appreciate your your again, back to that humility piece, like, that humility of, like I wrote this whole book and then I realized like this is the pattern that that happened in the book and I needed to correct them. So now I am, and so I just, I really appreciate your modeling, kind of what we're calling people to do as well. And so thank you for for naming that. Um my last question is just where can people learn more about you or or connect with you online as they kind of go off and and are really inspired by this episode and want to keep in touch. Yeah, probably the easiest, I don't want to throw out to many different websites to everybody, so probably if you just go to free reading training dot com free reading training dot com that way, you'll get your complimentary copy the book and you'll get, I think they're updating the site to, to make the, because I did that.

I recently did this five day challenge where every day for an hour I gave a whole bunch of strategies so you'll get access to that. So if you just go to free reading training dot com, that way you're not all confused and if you, if you forget me, it's my last name is really easy to remember. It's Danny Purcell. My last name's felt like bras sell. No, I never took any grief over that as a child. Oh, that's wonderful. Thank you so much Danny for being on the podcast and I'll drop the links to those websites in the show notes as well. So if you're driving, don't feel like you need to write that down, you can come back to them later. Thanks so much lindsey. Actually, I'll conclude this is the way whether I was teaching. My little ones are my older ones. They always had to hear me say the same refrain as they left class every day. I always told them remember kids education is valuable, but execution is priceless. Knowledge is not power only Applied knowledge is power knowing what the right thing to do and doing the right thing are two very different things to go out and do the right thing and make this world a much better place. That is a beautiful way to close.

Thanks so much Danny. Thank you God bless if you're leaving this episode, wanting more. You're going to love my live coaching intensive curriculum bootcamp. I help one department or grade team create feminist anti racist curricula that challenges affirms and inspires all students. We leave current events into course content and amplify student voices, which skyrockets engagement and academic achievement. It energizes educators feeling burns out and it's just two days plus you can reuse the same process any time you create a new unit, which saves time and money. If you can't wait to bring this to your staff, I'm inviting you to sign up for a 20 minute call with me, grab a spot on my calendar at www dot lindsey beth Lyons dot com slash contact Until next time leaders continue to think big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the teach Better podcast network, Better today, Better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better dot com slash podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode

85. “It’s Not What You Read, It’s How Much You Read” with Dr. Danny Brassell
85. “It’s Not What You Read, It’s How Much You Read” with Dr. Danny Brassell
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