Happy Holidays? Merry Christmas?

I am posting this blog again as it is just as true now as it was when we first posted it.  This blog is different from most. This isn’t about reading.Christmas_Bell
It’s not about education and it’s personal, but I feel it hits home to many and I want to share it. It has to do with a mostly unnecessary controversy (in my opinion) that has started  at the beginning of November in the last couple of years and now starts at the end of October on Facebook and in many emails–the controversy of how to greet people this time of year. There are those who  label saying “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” as being politically correct and want everyone to say “Merry Christmas” instead. The pontificating has bothered me, but I couldn’t put how I felt into words. A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook. With her permission, I am sharing it. Feel free to chime in.

As I glance at Facebook these days, I see so many postings objecting to the use of the term “Happy Holidays.” The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”). It is a time when miracles abound. For Jews, the celebration of Hanukkah remembers the miracle of 8 days of light without oil…Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child to a virgin mother…another miracle. Miracles unfold around us every day…if we just take the time to notice. This is a time we should find the reasons that cause us to be inclusive, not exclusive…a time to find common ground, not spotlight our differences. It is a season to celebrate God’s love for us all, no matter what God looks like to your neighbor. Yes, Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, but the month has many holy days for many people. So, when someone says “Happy Holidays” to me, I know that they are acknowledging the many miracles that are celebrated at this time of year, and they are extending joy. I wish all my Facebook friends Happy Holidays. Know that I am expressing joy that the miracle that is YOU is here in my life.

I hope you all have joy with the ones you love at this special time of year, no matter what you call it and no matter how you celebrate it.  We’ll be back to blogging about reading soon.

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The Results Are In–Our Summer Speed Reading Students Really Scored!


I think SpeedReading will be very helpful in the future with the upcoming school year and also for my SAT/ACT tests.  I think it will also be very useful in college and also  in general Thumbs Upwhen I need to take noes-and not just any notes, but organized ones.  Also, this will help me to get done with my homework quicker, allowing me to have more time to sleep. (Which is very hard when you play sports.)”–student at Olentangy Liberty HS

Thank you parents, grandparents, school counselors and coaches for sending your wonderful students to us.  Thank you to all of our participants who had to get up early and work so hard to achieve these amazing results.  You are why we love our jobs!

Our summer speed reading students continuously amaze themselves and their families. (We knew they could do it, but we were excited as well!). Eighty students ranging in grades from beginning 7th graders to graduating seniors–and a few adults continuing their education–took part in this summer’s six classes. The average beginning score was 240 wpm with 69% comprehension. Their average ending score was 2,399 wpm with 89% comprehension. That’s a Reading Efficiency Increase (REI) of 12.89 (1,289%)!  (Reading Efficiency Increase compares the beginning speed and comprehension with the ending speed and comprehension.)  We promised 3 – 5 x’s!  Click here for our complete summer results and student comments.

Our classes not only focus on increasing speed, but also emphasize strategies for increasing comprehension, recall, and retention, with study techniques for mastering and organizing information for exams, reports, and presentations. Our students get their work done faster with better results and find that they enjoy reading more. They have more confidence and skills for their ACT, SAT, OGT, AP courses, and college. They have time to participate in their sports and music, get good grades, and–as some reported as the biggest benefit–still get some sleep.

Now that summer is over, we will  help teens and adults reach their education and career goals in our Columbus, Ohio weekend classes and increase the productivity of corporate, military, and government groups in our on-site classes nationwide–and one upcoming class in Bangkok! And that will be fun for us, too.

Here’s to a great fall!

Bonnie James



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The Pathway to Our Kids’ Well-being and Anecdote to Violence – A Must-Read Book

‘It’s impossible not to be changed on the inside after being at the Seeds of Peace Camp,’ a refugee from Somalia told me (writer, Michele Borba). ‘Once you see that other people have the same worri…

Source: The Pathway to Our Kids’ Well-being and Anecdote to Violence – A Must-Read Book

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The Extras

This is an excellent article especially right now when people are investigating summer opportunities for their children through a ton of summer camp expos. I see the coming and goings of our neighbors with kids and they are exhausted. We feel our course gives them time to better balance activities with homework getting done faster and getting much needed sleep. But some sports seem to have requirements that go on all year and the kids think that they can’t do anything else.–

confident parents confident kids

Extracurriculars by Jennifer MillerExtracurricular activities – whether before school or after school or in the community – are implicitly optional. They are, as the word implies – “extra” – in addition to school. As a parent, the choices can be freeing and helpful or confusing and challenging and perhaps, a little of both. And to add to the complexity, our families don’t merely have ballet or piano or soccer from which to choose. There are any number of additional special interests that could be explored such as robotics, pottery or martial arts. Because there are so many considerations related to extracurriculars, I thought I would explore the many complexities, ask a number of parents how their parents handled the situation and how they have decided to manage “extras” with their own children and then examine other social and emotional developmental factors in the mix and see if any helpful suggestions emerged.

First let’s acknowledge that many…

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Addicted To Distraction — Great article in the New York Times about Concentration

I have found that more and more it is harder and harder to concentrate and to get Driven to Distractionthings done.  And  I teach people how to concentrate better! Most of the people I talk to about reading confess the same problem.

The New York Times Sunday Review published an article Addicted  to Distraction  by Tony Schwartz, the chief executive of The Energy Project, a consulting firm, and the author, most recently, of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.”  In it he talks about his problem with distraction and how he is working his way through it.  The article has excellent suggestions.  I plan to try them!
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“Don’t be who ISIS wants you to be”: Bloggers on Paris and Beirut

Blogs from people who wrote their thoughts on Paris. I hope everyone will read them.

The WordPress.com Blog

Telling stories has power; they connect us, help us work through the raw emotion, and give us a way to make sense of events. After last week’s devastating violence in Paris and Beirut, these nine bloggers shared theirs, helping us do just that. Reading their posts may not be easy — but it is important.

Cultive le Web, “Attentats à Paris, j’étais rue de Charonne

A writer from Cultive le Web was out for an evening with friends Friday night when shooting began on the rue de Charonne. The staccato phrasing of this play-by-play post captures brings readers some tiny measure of the fear, panic, and disbelief. It’s an unvarnished outpouring we wish he had no occasion to write, but are glad he did.

9:45 p.m. Noise, screams. A fight? A rowdy crowd there at the bar? They must be drunk, like on any Friday night in Paris, right? I come closer. A group of people…

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Masters of Deceit–How to Trust?

In 1958 J. Edgar Hoover wrote a book called Masters of Deceit.  It was about the Communist Party and was a classic for many years. Years later we found out he was a master himself.  Now more and more are Masters of Deceit.  Politicians come to mind.  You have to go to Snopes, PolitiFact or Fact-Check.org for every statement. It is natural to do check out “facts” and statistics  when you don’t agree with them, but I have come to realize that I also have to do it with statements that I want to be true. In my pessimistic moments,  it seems that the only unifying idea in the country right now is that everybody lies!  And when the lies are caught, they argue about whose lies were worse than theirs or they attack the fact checkers.  I found an interesting article when researching this topic: How to Beat the Fact-Checkers. Sub-tittle of the article:  “Politicians have figured it out: When caught in a lie, attack the truth cops.”  It was from 2012 but is even more true today.

The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are geinternet quote picturenuine. And that brings us to Facebook–the place where the truly gullible post outrageous things.  There are people who make fake church signs.  There are cute pictures with simplistic captions to support an untruth. There are doctored videos.  And don’t even think that if you see pictures of respected famous people with quotes supposedly by them, that they ever uttered those words.  I have been caught reposting something that supported my own beliefs without checking Snopes–now I don’t repost or I check it.  If I check out something that is too outrageous to be correct, I’ll let the poster know if it is wrong.  They are sometimes grateful–or they say the source of the correction is “biased.”

It also helps that I am a speed reader which makes it take less time to research and find  the various sides of issues. It is important to read information from the “other side” as well as information that supports your beliefs. If you would like to be do research faster, you can check out some of our other blogs:  Why Getting the Big Picture is Essential, Great Speed Reading Techniques That Save You Time.

To stay friends with people who naively post things without thought or care for accuracy, I am truly grateful that Facebook lets me block items from their unreliable sources and still enjoy their children, cat and dog pictures and read their fattening recipes.

But with all the negativity and false promises how do we trust and believe the honest and sincere?  What Advanced Reading Concepts does is help people achieve goals even beyond what they thought was possible.  In this era, how do people trust?  How do people believe?  How do people have faith?  Let’s explore that in the next blog.


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