Read Your Way To The Top

As we come towards the end of our solid campaign, we reflect back on the importance of installing a reading culture among youngsters.

The problem is far worse than we realise, where even with the popularity of young adult fiction like Harry Potter and Twilight the problem still remains. Throughout our campaign, we have shown the reasons behind youngsters not reading and also the ways by which if incorporated can help stop the decline of the reading habit.

‘Read your way to the top’ isn’t just a random message but is sincerely targetted towards the reality of what can happen if you follow it. There is no shortcut to the solution but requires the involvement of people to raise this concern on the behalf of making a smart world in the future. We would want our leaders, innovators and artists to be technically sound and mentally gifted. Books are an important catalyst in establishing such a role.

Everyone especially parents and teachers has a bigger role to play in making this younger generation lose their mindset regarding reading, and cultivate an open viewpoint towards such a habit.

We also urge the people following our campaign to get involved by creating a difference by preaching the benefits and making others aware of the dire need to make a change before it is too late.

Before we sign off, we would like to thank our readers for their immense support and endless love, now its time we use our learning and strive together to make a peaceful reading world.

-Paras Agarwal

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HELP IS ON THE WAY

There are a number of programs and organizations that are providing enough resources to help build a love of reading among children.

Here are some notable mentions.

 

PREMIER’S READING CHALLENGE

The Premier’s Reading Challenge is a literacy initiative developed by Australian state governments. It is set not as a competitive event, but rather as an individual challenge to each student, as well as to promote a love of reading books. The challenge is run in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria. It has been embraced by more than 95% of public, private and religious schools.

The guidelines to the program in each state differ slightly, but students must generally read a minimum of books within a certain amount of books, within a certain amount of time. In some states, these books must be a combination of personal choice books and other books from a pre-selected list of approved literature.
For more information on the program, visit their sites.

 

ZIPTALES

Ziptales is an online literacy “library” designed for school and home use. Ziptales has been a leader in the field of online literacy for more than 12 years. It is based on the latest research about how children develop and sustain a love of reading. The Ziptales “library” was built by trained teachers with the express purpose of making reading a pleasurable and lifelong experience.

How does it work?

Kids usually login to ziptales from school or home, where they get a database of hundreds of stories and activities to choose from. They have the option to read with or without animated voiceovers.

BRIGHTLY

Brightly is a resource to help moms and dads raise lifelong readers. Launched in partnership with Penguin Random House, Brightly features book recommendations from all publishers for every age and stage, reading tips and insights, seasonal inspirations, author essays, contests, gift guides, and more.

 

If you find this information useful, please leave a like or comment.

 

-Paras Agarwal

 

 

 

 

Make Reading A Compulsory Subject

How about we make reading a compulsory subject in our primary and secondary schools. In fact, let’s make it examinable too. The benefits of reading are widely established. As shown by various research that reading not only improves school grades but also enables a flourishing life as adults and nurtures better citizens.

How will ‘reading’ as a subject work?

Research shows that young children need help to read independently and with pleasure, so that can be the role of lower primary teachers. Later on, up to secondary school, teachers can go on to talk about how to get more out of reading fiction, how to read non-fiction more efficiently, how to read critically, and how to choose books. Better still, rather than tell, teachers can show and share the sheer fun of reading.

However, the key is that most lessons will simply be class time set aside solely for reading, half an hour to an hour a day. The teacher will go round to help struggling kids, or just to chat with them about what they are reading or wish to read. Each level will have a recommended list of both easy and difficult books, which students can borrow from the school library. Students need read only some of the books on the list, and can also choose to read books beyond the list. The list should have a very wide range of titles: fiction, non-fiction, novels, poetry, science, biographies, history, philosophy, gastronomy, sports among others.

One possible objection to making reading compulsory and examinable is that it might turn students off reading. The answer is that few students are keen on reading anyway so it could not turn off any more of them. It is up to our teachers, properly trained, of course, to make reading a joy.

If this post gave you some insights, please leave a like or comment with your views regarding the matter.

-Paras Agarwal

READING ROLE MODELS

Parents know how to inspire a love of books in babies and toddlers, but as kids get older and go to school, reading can be seen as work rather than fun — and kids, especially teens, may stop reading for pleasure.

Here are few tips that can help parents to become a reading role model that their child needs.

 
1. KEEP THINGS REAL

Make explicit connections between your child’s ability to read and her future options in life. If your child is thinking about college or a career path, have open, honest discussions about the ways reading might be necessary for her success. Just be careful to discuss, not preach. Encourage your child to brainstorm with you and to generate some of the ideas you discuss.

2. LET THEM CHOOSE

The best way to encourage your child to read is to allow them to read whatever they find engaging, whether it’s comic books, cookbooks or romance novels about vampires or zombies. The books they are drawn to might not be your favourites but don’t discourage their preferences. Reading is reading. Avoid any urge to censor her choices.

 
3. MERGE MOVIES WITH BOOKS

Hollywood is turning to teen lit for ideas more than ever. Offer your child the print version to read before or after a big film adaptation comes out, and talk about the similarities and differences between the two. Check out our list of Books to Read Before They’re Movies in 2016.

4. MODEL READING

The best way to create a culture of reading in your home is to read as much as possible. Read at home where your teens can see you. Talk about what you’re reading, and express your enjoyment. Always take a book or magazine along when you go to the beach or face waiting in a long line. Send your teen the message that reading is a pleasure, not a chore. The more your child sees you reading, the more likely they will follow suit. This doesn’t change once your child enters high school. Teens are even more resistant to any message that implies do as I say, not as I do.

5. TIE READING TO SOCIAL MEDIA

If your child likes texting friends and posting on social networks, you can give them mini-assignments that use those interests. For example, encourage them to start following a blog and to read interesting posts aloud to you occasionally. Or you could ask them to be on the lookout for interesting abbreviations people use in texts and get them to make a cheat sheet or to quiz you on what these abbreviations stand for.

6. KEEP READING MATERIAL AROUND

Kids who grow up with lots of books around tend to read more. Stock the bathroom, car, dining table — wherever there’s a captive audience — with comic books, graphic novels, and magazines geared to your teens’ interests; first books in hit young adult series; or classic sci-fi and mysteries.

7. LEVERAGE THEIR INTEREST IN CURRENT EVENTS

Highlight the ways that your high-schooler can use reading to keep tabs on what’s happening in her world. Encourage your child to pick up a newspaper or subscribe to a magazine. For teens with learning and attention issues, reading might seem frustrating or boring. But if your child is interested in sports, politics, celebrities, music, you name it, there will always be something they might want to read!

Please leave a like and comment with other useful tips.

-Paras Agarwal

The rise of e-reading

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SOURCE: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Reading Habits Survey

 

With the rise of technology, the cultural shift from print to electronic media was inevitable. Along with it, comes a more debatable topic on whether the former is better than the latter.

An interview with a couple of teenagers and young adults revealed some astonishing insights.

Q: Why are young people—who are accustomed to doing most things on screens—resistant to e-books?

Adam Iacono: I think distraction is the biggest factor on the being resistant to ebooks. A lot of times our mind get pulled away on many other things, that ultimately stops us from paying attention to what we were reading.

Nick Elegant: For me, it has always been with the problem of eye strain and headaches and physical discomfort.

Q: Do students feel like they’re learning more when they actually read books in print, but do we know whether they actually retain more?

Nishanth Mudkey: I think it doesn’t matter, as long as they read with genuine interest. But yes there is a sense of accomplishment when I finish a book and I want to see it on the shelf.

Q: Do e-books make reading a more social, less personal experience?

Vanessa Lee: If you’re annotating on a Kindle, on a Kobo, you see—you know how many people thought that word was really important, or maybe everybody else liked this passage. If we sat and thought about it, what we think the author has to say. … Rather, we’re just trying to present ourselves or fit in.

Q: Why do students buy e-books ?

Mathew Williams: Price. I’d like to have the print version, but the electronic version is so much less expensive.

Niloufar Lajevardi: One of the reasons I think could be to save the environment. The idea of making a difference in the world by condemning the use of paper through reading electronic media can be seen as doing a noble work.

If you find this post helpful, please leave a like and do comment on whether you think e-reading will make youngsters read.

-Paras Agarwal

201: How to read books efficiently

Have you ever wondered, how much you remember from a book?

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Usually, we forget half of what we read after 2 weeks and 90% after 2 months.

A great place to start with book retention is with understanding some key ways our brain stores information.

IMPRESSION

When you are very impressed by something (an idea, a picture, a sound, a face, a text, a situation), the probability that you will remember it is much higher. For example, if as a child you were left alone lost in a mall for a while, you might remember the whole situation very accurately. Same with your book: if you are very impressed by something the main character did in his journey, the chance you will remember this aspect becomes higher. The good thing is that you can increase the strength of this impression yourself while reading.

For example, you can stop reading one second and picture the situation in your mind, exaggerating some features of the situation in order to enhance the impression of your mental image, by adding violence, greatness, or anything to shock yourself. You can even add yourself into your mental picture, imagining that character thanking you for your help or kicking your butt or anything memorable. This will make the impression stronger.

ASSOCIATION

If you can link something you read to anything you already know, the probability of remembering it becomes even stronger—sometimes incredibly strong. For example, if your favourite character from the book was born on the same day as you, you would find it very easy to remember this because you linked the data you read to something you already know for sure and will not forget. It is like tying something new (the data you read, like birthdays) to a tree (a piece of data you know, your own birthday). That is why the more you know about a topic, the easier it is to learn more and more.

Linking the text to something you already know and prior knowledge, is a great way to build the association.

REPETITION

If you read a book 10 times you will remember more. Same for anything, a recipe, a route between two locations, the lyrics of a song, phone numbers, etc. The more you repeat, the more you remember. When reading a book, if you do not want to read it several times, you can highlight a few parts that you want to remember and re-read only those parts several times. You will remember these segments much better. And you will see that they will also help you remember the rest of the book.
In summary, impress yourself with powerful mental images, make associations with what you already know (and make sure you learn the basics before you learn more), and repeat this exercise several times. Work to become better at remembering and you will become better at remembering everything you want.

101: How to read more books

If you are reading this, chances are you are struggling to cope up with the sheer amount of books available nowadays. It could be an overwhelming process to choose a book and sticking to it. The first step can be an excruciating barrier that can stop you from gaining all the knowledge that those books have to offer.

How to take the plunge?

Let’s take a quick look at a step-to-step guide that can be an effective way for you to break that mental barrier and form a lifelong habit that can generate a lot of positives in life.

1. Choose a book that appeals to you

Ask yourself, why to waste time on things that do not hold a purpose you want to achieve. It is easy to fall into reading ruts where you can feel pressurized to read the trendy topics or some omniscient embodiment of the literary community that has no significance on your interest and hobbies. It’s better to indulge your mind in books that align with your passion and force you to think and construct new ideologies.

2. Keep a book where you like to relax

The easiest way to make something a habit is to remove any friction. After you come home from work, you shouldn’t lose time deciding on something to read or digging through your room looking for a paperback you started on your last flight. The best way to overcome the distraction is to place your book at a place where you are likely to relax.

3. Repurpose your time

In a world of easily accessible media, it is easy enough for a person to get distracted by the vast majority of content including videos, music and games. If you look at it in terms of raw numbers, the average person watches 35 hours of TV each week, the average commute time is one hour per day round-trip, and you can spend at least another hour per week for grocery shopping. All in all, that’s a total of 43 hours per week, and at least some of that could be spent reading books.

Structuring your time wisely will establish lifelong benefits by increasing the productivity levels while keeping your brain wiser and sharper.

 
4. Create different ways to read

If you have a traditional outlook on reading books, and you feel it is boring, it is time you change. Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Workweek and a handful of other bestsellers has developed a technique that allows the reader to read 300% faster than usual.

The first technique, the tracker/pacer, is to use a pen as a tracker or pacer instead of fingers to run across the lines. Ferriss calls this second technique Perceptual Expansion. With practice, you train your peripheral vision to be more effective by picking up the words that you don’t track directly with your eye.Rapid eye movements called saccades occur constantly as we read and as our eyes jump from margins to words. Minimising these are a key way to boost your reading times.

The takeaway here: If you can advance your peripheral vision, you may be able to read faster—maybe not 300 percent faster, but every little bit counts.

Another innovative way to read books is to utilize applications such as Spritz and Blinkist that take unique approaches to helping you read more—one helps you read faster and the other helps you digest books quicker. *Click on the hyperlinks to understand more about them*

 
5. Read every day

Reading isn’t something to be done once a week to check a box, it’s something to do every day.

A strategy that would allow you to read more books without letting typical distractions get in the way is to read 20 pages to start the day.
James Clear’s technique of utilizing 30 minutes of his early morning to read 20 pages has helped him develop his reading habits from reactive to proactive. Usually, we read on the basis of our reactions, when we see an interesting link flashing across the screens on Facebook or Twitter. Instead of proactively engaging with a book, most of our time is used on reading content online. From a learning perspective, it’s probably a better use of time to read books because of its higher quality information (better fact-checking and more extensive research).

This reading strategy asks you to invest in yourself by picking a book daily before the normal bustle of the day.


These guidelines are basic and fundamental to help you in making your life productive and worthwhile. Every book you read, and the information you gather helps you in future in one way or another- be at dinner conversations, impressing your colleagues or making an argument on forums. The wealth of a person lies in his knowledge, which gets only better as it supported by the wonderful openness of the world.

The only thing that’s stopping you from reading a book is YOU. So shrug that mental block and climb onto the reading ladder.

If this post inspired you and taught you some pointers on how to read more books, please leave a comment. We also hope you’ll encourage others to make valuable use of their time and make them prioritize reading as a part of life.

What would make them read more?

 

Strategies for Choice
Time spent reading is an investment, therefore it is important to choose the right type of book before investing.

There have been studies that show not a lot of students are equipped with strategies for selecting books and are unaware of currently existing tools to help them support their search. While some students are heavily dependent on parent or friend recommendations, many students had little opportunity to gain knowledge of books and authors, as their closest social influences were not actively engaged in book reading, underpinning the importance of effective strategies for choice and exposure to a broad range of different authors and genres.

Explicitly teaching choosing strategies may increase the number of positive matches between students and books.

 
Access to attractive, relevant and diverse books

Once appropriate choosing strategies have been acquired, students need ready access to interesting books that are both attractive and diverse. The look of the book, encompassing book size, colour and cover, and even the title font, influenced their choice.

Authors, publication companies should ensure that the design and the aesthetic appeal of the books must align with the right demographics, as it can do wonders in attracting publics.

 
Time availability

Some students were genuinely unable to read books for recreation due to heavy non-recreational commitments, including paid work, sibling care and a substantial load of schoolwork.

Schools need to incorporate silent reading into their schedule, that will enable them to utilise their available time in an appropriate manner and without the hindrances of external activities after school.

 
Time allocation

Many students did not read because they chose not to, making the decision to allocate their allotted recreation time into more appealing pursuits. The ready availability of technology within their immediate domestic sphere and an apparent lack of restriction on their use of technology enabled many students to spend the majority of their recreation time as screen time, whether on a computer, phone, tablet or TV.

Parents need to install a period of abstinence from electronic devices which could increase the likelihood that time would be allocated to recreational book reading in the absence of screen-based alternatives.

 

Concentration

It is apparent that concentration is the prime reason that significantly affect some students’ inclinations not only to initially engage in the book reading process but to sustain reading for more than a short period of time. Literate students may struggle with the cognitive demands of book reading, and this may discourage them from regularly undertaking the practice.

Media multitasking that involves engaging in more than one screen-based activity simultaneously: for example, watching television and texting, or watching music videos on a tablet while Instant Messaging, can be cited as a reason to cause problems in the nature of human cognition that can create hazards in concentration when reading books.

 
Encouragement
Parents, teachers, friends and peers potentially influence students to engage in recreational book reading more regularly. The current generation of adolescents is characterised by a social nature and a subsequent craving for interactivity. Now, more than ever, students need the chance to talk about books in a supportive environment. Educators can create platforms for peer encouragement on a broader scale. Home environment can act as a catalyst to support the initial engagement and transform it as a daily activity.

Survival of the Fittest

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Lately, in the past decade, there has been a surge of movies based on books especially children/young adult fiction books. Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, Chronicle of Narnia, The Polar Express have all not just been movies adapted from books but have been highly successful in terms of revenue collection.

This brings us to two important questions –

Why read a book when you can watch it as a movie?

 

Can watching movies increase the determination in youngsters to read books?

These are two questions that are quite contradictory and yet go hand in hand. There are statements and arguments on both sides where some could argue that teenagers are more fascinated with the visual material than literary but many also believe that movies are the building block for reading books. On one hand, the book-based movie provides reinforcements for a struggling reader as it enhances the reading experience and allows the reader to visually connect with the words, allowing them to make necessary connections and help them comprehend what they normally wouldn’t be able to due to the low reading comprehension skills. But on the other hand, for an avid reader, the movie adaptation ruins the imagination and makes the reading experience uninteresting which contributes to the failure of having a deep attention span when reading that book. The risk factor involved in a movie adaption is also high as it could potentially damage the even slightest inclination for people to read the book if that movie turns out to be bad because it was poorly adapted from the book.

Let’s look at the stats.

In 2001, NPD Funworld found that seventy-nine percent of children ages 6-17, and seventy-one percent of adults who have read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone planned on seeing the first Harry Potter movie (NPD). It is evident and quite logical that the majority of children and adults who have read books will definitely go and watch the movie adaption. But the question lies in whether these movies can make readers out of students that are reluctant to read. According to the book sales figures, children’s book-based movies bring interest to the books upon which they are based. The Polar Express normally sells approximately 200,000 copies every winter holiday season, but the movie release in November 2004 led to three million copies sold during the 2004 holiday season. Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting also sold more than six times more the year it appeared on the big screen. If one were to look at just the book sales it would appear that book-based movies do generate an interest in the books.

The notion that movie adaptations are bad for the reading culture is debatable, where it might influence the audience’s preference for choosing the medium to digest the story, however, it also opens up the possibility and curiosity among viewers to explore more in depth narration and characters through books.

Tell us your favorite movie adaptation in the comments below.

Also get involved by encouraging children and offer words of wisdom on social media, use the hashtag #risethroughreading.

-Paras Agarwal

Something is Missing

What is missing in these pictures?

 

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A couple of kids, in their bedroom, fully engaged with a tablet.

 

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People sitting on an Aeroplane with their own tapes while some dozed off and others stare at a small movie screen.

 

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Family members with their smartphones on a dinner table.

 

 

What is missing from these pictures, and increasingly from our lives is the activity through which we learned the most of what we know of the world. What’s missing is the knowledge and information that forms our patterns of thought. What’s missing is the absolute factor that progresses the underlying growth and development of the young.

Now that importance of culture is established. We need the reading more than ever. Instead of asking others what they have read lately, people nowadays assume that nobody gets much time to read books. How did this come to happen?

Books the oldest form of print had been so prominent in our history that we could have hardly seen it coming but the problem does not lie with the publication since publishers are constantly churning out books (133,196 new titles listed in “Books in Print” in the past year) but on our change in the habit of reading. The modern-day readers read with the only goal and that is to gain a quick, conversation-enhancing topic as they try to skim through the words. The habit of reading rapidly has been a major factor in the decline of the traditional way of reading. Similarly, the newspaper that once was the morning ritual of every household has been affected significantly by the change. What’s more interesting is that young people are losing the newspaper habit even faster than their parents. “We are developing a generation that has no interest in reading except insofar as it is assigned in school,” concludes Daniel Kevles, professor of humanities at Caltech. There is a general lack of public affairs among the students.

The technological revolution is unstoppable but that does not mean the old order should fade away with it. Even though electronic media has taken over print media, we need to understand the intellectual and seriousness quotient it has on art, education, religion, politics and journalism. Reading is central to our culture. It is connected to virtually all the forces that shaped our culture. The question, as we leave the age of print for the uncharted waters of this new electronic age, is whether we risk losing much of what reading enabled us to gain.
Share your opinions and thoughts with us through comments or use the hashtag #risethroughreading on social media.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

-Paras Agarwal

Unveil the Magic of the Books

Books contain the power to transform you. It creates a shift in your mental state that illuminates every present brain cells to give you the ultimate gift. Sounds magical right? Yes. But in order to achieve this kind of tranquillity, one needs to understand and obey the fundamental law- ‘read to read’. The law states that to witness such a condition one needs to create an affection towards the habit of reading. The magic only works when you immerse yourself in a book, criticising and forming your own thoughts and opinion as you read while forging a relationship between yourself and the author.

For someone quite naive to such a notion, it is quite understandable that these arguments might sound illogical and flawed. Also for someone who has witnessed such an epiphany, but might not have come to terms with the underlying feelings or is quite reluctant or confused to put in words. Here is a list of unspoken benefits that might change your perspective on how you see reading and give you a profound insight on how you can change your life without moving a physical muscle.

Self-Knowledge: What would it feel like when you found a part of yourself? You may cry, smile or wince and just take a while to sink in the moment of self-realisation. When you read, and you find a piece of information that connects to you or speak to your soul – you feel enlightened. You feel like somehow the author has given you the one thing that you had been searching your whole life. The words written by unlikely stranger creates a bridge for you to meet the most important person in the world- yourself.

Empathy: When you invest your time in listening to someone’s thoughts, you create an empathy towards them. When you read, the book provides a portal for you to jump into the author’s mind and make you care enough to truly listen to their musings. Even if you don’t like their opinions, you exercise your mind to open up and understand their shortcomings and reasons behind them.

Humility: When you let go of your ego, you can truly open your eyes to see that there are things much bigger than you, there are people much smarter than you and you are just a tiny part of the giant universe. Reading books make you accept these facts, and open up a window of this universe for you to explore and engage.

Presence: The practice of mindfulness has been there for centuries and a lot of has been said regarding its benefits. Meditation is widely considered to be the way this practice can be cultivated, but it is not the only way. When you dig into a book that has caught your attention, time ceases to exist, your attention span increases tenfold and the only thing that matters to you in that moment are the words written on that book. Your worry, fears and anguished gets boxed away into a container labelled ‘for later’ and the only worry you have is to flip to the next page.

Joy: If anything has to stick, it needs to be enjoyable. The act of doing anything that is boring and blatant should be stopped. Reading can be tiresome and dull, only when it’s challenging or your interest does not match with the book’s content. Read books that jog up your brain and ignite a sense of enjoyment. When you do this, the joy that comes with it has no bounds. Read what enriches you and your life will be changed because of it.

The power is real. You just need to dive right into it.

If you are one of those people, that have been struck by the magical prowess of reading books, we would like you to share your stories and encourage fellow beings especially young people to enter the book realm and show them that the magic of books is real. Use the hashtag #risethroughreading on social media to voice your thoughts and follow our other social media accounts for more content.

                                 -Paras Agarwal

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin

Wouldn’t it be fascinating to live several lives within one lifetime?
But, the question is how do you do that? Simply pick up a book, cosy up and start reading.

If you look at all the successful people in the world, you would notice one common pattern. They have all lived several lives within their lifetime and gathered information and knowledge which they applied in their real lives to become who they are today. Warren Buffet was once asked about the key to success, he pointed out to a stack of nearby books and said “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” And he isn’t alone, there are many top business leaders and entrepreneurs who have made reading a major part of their daily lives.

These tech giants, media moguls and successful people believe that books are a gateway to learning and knowledge. Even though some of them dropped out of college but they never stopped learning. Books helped them filled the void and turned them into an individual that they are today.

If reading this blog post doesn’t motivate you to pick up a book, then you need to follow more of our accounts for a bigger dose of encouragement. But if does give you a hint of incentive, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to share us your insights and your words of encouragement.

Looking forward to hearing from you readers!

– Paras Agarwal

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