I seriously think God instilled a love of reading into my very soul. I was reading before I could actually read because books fascinated me. Once I learned how to read (learning the vowel “E” was brutal) I couldn’t be stopped. I was blessed with parents who had a nice sized library for me to choose from and were willing to take me to the library and also a wonderful 7th grade teacher who let me go to the school library whenever I wanted to get new books. I was a crazy vivacious reader, reading way beyond my grade level. I was the student in school that always read the assigned book because I wanted to read anything I could get my hands on and I loved the classics. I think now as an adult I would appreciate them more but even as a teenage they were fascinating to me. One of my favorite genres is historical fiction which I think helped cultivate my love of the classics because they are set in the past and showed me a world I will probably only experience through literature (there’s still time for time travel to be made possible and there is no proof The Doctor doesn’t exist). I was also blessed to have a great group of friends that loved reading as well.
Not everyone feels the way I do about books in fact beyond my circle of friends, which was about 10 people in a class of 100, no one else liked reading. That’s 10% of a class that reads and the rest do it because it is assigned and could really care less. By the time we were sophomores 90% of my fellow classmates hadn’t read a book since middle school. For someone who loves reading I just could not understand why they did not like reading. Reading is my number one passion, besides kids/teenagers, and I struggled with the idea that people hated reading. It’s like those strange people who hate chocolate, pizza or Batman. I just could not stand in their shoes and see reading through their eyes.
Now as a junior in college I see the other side because I strongly dislike reading textbooks unless it is interesting or about a subject I am passionate about. Reading two chapters of Book Love by Penny Kittle was like a breeze, but trying to read one chapter of my technology class textbook is like nails on a chalkboard. I get it. When a book is long and full of words you don’t know it’s either going to be boring and you give up or it takes you a long time to finish it. It took me six months to read The Count of Monte Christo and that was a 1,000 page book. I made myself read 50 pages every weekend and while I enjoyed the book I just wanted to be done reading it half way through. Most teenagers in school wouldn’t have even bothered to start the book or just watched the movie (which is nothing like the book).
Where does this dislike of reading come from? After reading Book Love, watching the video, other articles, and from my own experiences, this dislike stems from assigned books that are beyond students reading level. Quite a few of those students in that video said the books were boring and they didn’t understand them. They tried to but why bother when you can spark note it, learn about the books main points from classroom discussion, or have your friends tell you what happened. I forgot to read a few chapters of Frankenstein my senior year of high school and so I just asked my friends and then used spark notes to fill in the missing details.
My freshman English teacher was the fun teacher because he showed movies, talked a lot about random stuff, and was a little attractive, but he did something I will never forget. He decided he wasn’t going to torture us by making us read Great Expectations, a book that should not be considered freshman level reading material, but instead chose to read to us the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I had read it previous to that year but being able to discuss it with my fellow classmates and watch the movie (despite Kristin Stewart), was amazing. Everyone liked the book and was excited to discuss it. Not just a few days ago we were pulling teeth and spark noting because Great Expectations was boring. I even thought it was boring-now that I am older I think I might actually enjoy it, but as a freshman in high school who loved vampires and teenage romance, the story of Pip was not doing it for me. Speak spoke to us as teenagers and we connected to the plight of Melinda and the struggle of what is was like being a freshman in high school. We cringed with her when she was made fun of and her best friend betrayed her. We cheered in triumph when she stood up for herself and everyone got to see her for who she was. We were engaged readers/listeners because instead of being forced to read a book that didn’t apply to us as teenagers we were able to read a book that was written for us about us.