Readers write

Ancient lessons for today's Israel

Regarding Helen Schary Motro's April 19 opinion piece "Israel's forgotten lesson": As the adopted father of a Kurdish son, I know first-hand the genocidal policies under which Kurds have to live in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and elsewhere in Europe where governments are - at best - embarrassed by their presence. Their experiences are as much a lesson in intolerance as any in the 20th century.

It is a tragedy of biblical dimensions that the Israeli government cannot remember for even 24 hours the lesson of the Haggadda, which they read at Passover. They forget who delivered the Israelites from tyranny, and forget to show thanks, as the Haggadda instructs, by never doing to another what was done to them.

I deeply appreciate the Passover lesson in Ms. Motro's article. The story of Passover, the story of Easter, the story of the feast following the hajj, the universal story of any renewal of the mercy which brings us to existence, performed and retold by believers in every community of the human family everywhere, tells us about our responsibility to take care of others who have less than we do. That is a universal truth, and the foundation of all that it means to be human. We all forget, and we all have to remember, and keep on remembering.

Isa Kocher Al-Khod, Oman

Reading starts at home

I just read Scott Rice's letter in the editorial section of the April 17 issue regarding your April 10 editorial "Revving up reading." Mr. Rice is correct in stating that reading is fundamentally important, particularly in a democracy. But often the problem with the portrayal of American schools in the media is the lack of real information about what those of us at the front lines of education do on a daily basis. It is easy to point the finger and say that teachers need to shape up and teach reading the right way.

If reading is going on anywhere in "our consumption-obsessed, media-distracted, increasingly less democratic society," it is surely in America's classrooms. There are amazing programs out there and dedicated teachers working tirelessly to teach kids to read. I know.

But the single largest determining factor in a student's reading and academic success is the number of hours spent reading outside of school. I guess I do agree that "reading is also intensely interactive and collaborative."

Kevin Mount Santa Cruz, Calif.

Spreading the love of reading

Regarding your April 18 parenting column "Sneaking a love of reading through cinema's back door": I am ESL department chair at a middle school in the Seattle area, and I will suggest a version of your strategy to the parents of the 115 students I supervise, as they, too, often look for ways to motivate their children to read.

For these students, reading is even more critical than for native English speakers, as they often enter my school reading at the first-, second- or third-grade level, and our goal is to have them reading at least at the fifth-grade level before they leave us for 9th grade and high school.

Mike McLeod Des Moines, Wash.

A hard day's knight?

Your April 17 news brief about the BBC poll of top singing voices of the 20th century listed the "late Beetle John Lennon."I'm hoping this was a bleary-eyed oversight, or perhaps the spell checker, which surely didn't show "Beatle" as a real word.

As the most influential rock band ever, they deserve a place in every spell checker.However, drummer Ringo would also empathize with deadlines.After a marathon recording session till sunrise, he gave their movie and record their titles when he said: "That was a hard day's night!"

Wes Bockley Newton, Mass.

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