Some days I feel like I was born to read. To fall in love with stories. To think deeply about the books that I carry in my heart, to get so consumed by the tale of someone else’s life that there is nothing that can penetrate my wall of immersion. On other days, reading is the furthest thing from my mind as I watch my house fill up with dirty clothes, my children’s arms eagerly awaiting another hug, a song, some help. Reading moves further away when the to-do’s pile up, the stacks of paper start to scatter, and my brain cannot seem to slow down. That is when I am my most vulnerable as a reader. When the world is too busy and sitting down with a book seems to be too much of a luxury. I lose touch with the power of reading, but not for long, never for long.
So I continue to come back to books whenever I can. I get through the things that have to get done so my ears can hear my to-be-read pile calling. It is not hard for me to find book, it is hard for me to choose which one next. It is not hard for me to find a moment of quiet, where I don’t have to do anything but read, after all my kids go to bed early. My life has taught me that I am a reader, even if I am not reading. That I am a reader even when I abandon a book, struggle with its meaning,or have no idea what to read next. I am a reader because I have had so many amazing experiences with books that I cannot imagine my life without them.
Yet, how many of our students have that same experience? How many of the children we teach know in their core that they are readers? How many have experienced the freedom of choice in books that we have as adults? How many of them have experienced what it means to abandon a book simply because they wanted to? How many of them feel like finding time to read is an investment worth making because they know their soul will feel better?
It seems our classrooms are set up to cover curriculum, which in its simplest way makes sense, after all, we cannot be teachers if we do not teach. Yet, within that curriculum we need to create reading experiences that allow students to fall in love with reading. To read with wild abandonment because it is what they want to do, not just have to do.
We need to give them enough incredible experiences with books so that they can become readers at their core, and not just because their teacher told them so but because they know it will better their lives. We need to give them enough moments with books that they choose so that when their reading slows down, when they meet a text that does not entice them, they will not give up on reading but rather know that they are in a lull and that this too shall pass. That being a reader means that we don’t always read but we cannot imagine a life without it.
I was born a reader, or so it seems, because my mother never told me what book to read, my teachers never told me my level, and I was never ashamed to admit when I read slowly. The least I can do is offer my students the same thing.
If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.