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The Magic of Reading [electronic resource]

If writing is the beginning of history, reading is the beginning of civilization. In this program, host Alberto Manguel traces the history of literacy via the Lascaux caves of prehistoric France; ancient Mesopotamia, birthplace of cuneiform and home to the Epic of Gilgamesh; and Egypt both past and present, with its monumental libraries at Alexandria. He then addresses the powerful benefits and dangerous drawbacks of personal interpretation of religious texts and ends with issues of access to books in deprived areas of the world.

Learning to Read [electronic resource]

Economic conditions and physical disabilities have denied the magic of reading-a gift so basic as to be taken for granted-to innumerable people. This program hosted by Alberto Manguel looks at how impediments to literacy are being overcome through the stories of literacy campaigns in Toronto and the Webequie First Nation, Canada, and a case study of how author Howard Engel copes with his struggle to regain his reading ability in the aftermath of a stroke. In addition, the withholding of literacy from African-American slaves is explored through the life story of Frederick Douglass; challenges faced by readers in antiquity are discovered by sifting through clues from ancient Italy; and theories of how reading is accomplished in the brain are considered.

The Future of Reading [electronic resource]

In this program, host Alberto Manguel uses the history of the written text-from hand-copied codex, to machine-printed book, to digital document-as a vehicle to address large-scale efforts to preserve the world's literary heritage, a dual challenge involving a rapidly deteriorating corpus of old books and an overwhelming proliferation of blogs and other significant writings on the Internet. In addition, the implications of cell phone fiction and interactive online novels are discussed; the One Laptop per Child initiative, bringing online reading to the developing world, is praised; and concern over Google's proprietary book digitization project, which would make the company the de facto owner of the planet's largest cache of published writings, is expressed.