Yup…I said it. I used to hate reading. I remember enjoying reading in elementary school due to reading time with my teachers and parents. My first grade teacher had an entire shelf filled with the Mr. Men and Little Miss books that she would read at the end of the day. She would sit in her rocking chair, change her voice and her speedy to ensure she had our full attention and read like it was the most magical grouping of words she had ever laid her eyes on. I remember loving teacher read alouds all throughout elementary school as the teachers seemed to pick their favorite books and their enthusiasm oozed out of them as they read, making us, the listeners, fall in love with the stories. My mom took my sister and I to the public library frequently and she purchased books through Scholastic Book Clubs, based on our current interests.
Moving on to junior high, I had an incredible English teacher, shout out Mr. D., who taught us a new weekly poem and had us memorize it. I am not a huge fan of poetry, but I do have a good memory. I didn’t realize at the time that he was helping us build our fluency through the repeated readings. I can still remember the start of one to this day and I was 11 when I learned it. “A smile is infectious, you catch it like the flu. When someone smiled at me today I started smiling too. I passed around the corner and someone saw me grin…” you get the idea, right? We had to read a certain number of books and have a one-on-one conference with him. I found a teeny bopper, romance series that I am sure he didn’t care about…however, his attention to my retelling and his ability to ask meaningful questions encouraged me to continue reading the books I enjoyed.
Then I went to high school. Reading was absolutely ruined for me. I can honestly say that I do not remember reading one entire book that was required during that time. Reading became a chore and the idea of then reading for pleasure on top of trying to read everything I was supposed to be reading was a joke. I don’t remember any teachers getting so excited about a novel that I felt like I had to read it. It was a requirement, read it (or some of it) and move on. BORING.
I went to college and took it very seriously. I read everything I was supposed to be reading and then found a release in reading for pleasure. It was a mental break from the daily grind. During my junior year I lived with an English major who had a floor to ceiling bookshelf. I would wonder into her room and like my own little personal librarian, she would recommend one of her favorites. I quickly started falling back in love with reading.
I got married, we had kids who never slept and reading was pushed to the side, but I missed it. I set a goal to read FOUR pages a night to try to make it a habit again. The funny thing is that when you start reading, sometimes it is hard to stop. I now enjoy both reading and listening to books and it is often my way of relaxing or reducing stress. Sometimes when the world feels heavy, a spicy, completely unrealistic rom-com is all a person really needs in their life.
The impact a parent or teacher can have on a child’s love for reading is monumental. Kids get excited when they see adults get excited about a variety of topics. Let the children AND young adults in your life see you read and hear you talk about your favorite books. Reading can truly be magical and our attitude towards it can greatly affect another persons interest and ability to fall in love with stories.