The Power of Reading

We’re on Fall Break this week. After a morning outside at the park, I took my kids by GameStop and let them each pick out a “new” game for our Wii console. Carson chose Mario Super Sluggers. Cameron voted for Need for Speed Version 1,000,001, or whatever it is, and Colton selected an F1 racing game. I expected them to spend all day today in front of the television, and I’d resigned myself to it. After all, I told myself, they don’t get to do it that often. But then, I walked by my daughter’s door and got a little surprise.img_6504
Carson wasn’t playing a video game with her brothers. Instead, she was in her Kingdom of All Things Pink, curled up on her bed reading the book I’d bought her Sunday afternoon. She was so absorbed that she didn’t hear me walk by and snap the photo. It touched my heart…so much so, in fact, that I didn’t have the heart to point out the laundry in the floor by the closet door.

I’m sure this is going to come as a total shock to many of you…but I’m an avid reader. I don’t actually read books; it’s more like I ravenously devour them.

For example, on the day of our little park and shopping trip this Fall Break I read Flesh and Blood, by Patricia Cornwall, before breakfast. We left the house around nine, ran errands, went to the park, got a hair cut, and came back to the house. At 2:30, I downloaded the newest Magnus Chase by Rick Riordan to my Kindle. My husband wanted us to meet him at work around 4:15, and I wanted reading material. I had the book mostly finished before we had to leave to go do our family errand, and I finished a few minutes after we were all back home. We did dinner, we played a round of Mario baseball, and I sat down around 8:30 to peruse Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

I picked it up on a whim when my children saw the movie poster on the way to GameStop. I decided I’d read the book and see if the movie would be appropriate for them to watch. I read for a few minutes and then got the children in bed around nine (Fall Break bedtime, yeesh) and settled back down to finish the book by 10:15.

So yeah–I read three books in a day, without feeling rushed. I LOVE Fall Break.

My students ask me all the time how I read that fast. I think it frustrates them–they spend hours agonizing over a ten-page reading assignment that I’d snap through in the time it takes them to convince themselves to open the book.

The only real advice I have?  Read. Being a good reader is a practiced skill. Like my daughter curled up on the bed, I squirreled away books from my youngest days. Just ask my mom–she’d tell me to clean my room and I’d hide in the closet with a flashlight and a book. (I said I was a good reader…I never said I was good at fooling parents…)

I think the biggest problem with our young readers today is that we make it a chore and a task instead of a pleasure. Reading for quantity, not quality, has destroyed their love for the written word. Books have become a means to an A.R. goal party instead of an escape from reality.

I don’t force my children to read. Instead, I make sure that books are everywhere in our house, on every possible topic that might interest them. We have fiction and nonfiction–a little heavy on books about military and military history at the moment, and of course lots of books about princesses and kittens. And you know what? They’ve rewarded me handsomely…by curling up with a book instead of cleaning their rooms.

Oh well. A clean floor is overrated when there’s a princess to save.

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