"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

P = Pleasure and Pain in Reading

It drives me crazy when I hear people say, "I don't like books...Reading is boring." I have a suspicion this stems from how we're taught to read as children. We go from having cute picture books and silly rhymes read to us by the people we love, to school where the teachers pick out the most brutal and boring and occasionally upsetting books and force children to read them for grades.

I love books, but I remember reading in school and it sucked. Bad things were constantly happening to people and animals... I didn't like that. The writing was so dull, I'd rarely make it 3 pages in to find out what horrible thing was happening in fiction this semester.  I remember my mother yelling at me, "How can you be have an F on a book report! You read!" 

That's true. I read. I never left the house without a book, and that was before I was ever enrolled in school. I didn't have a security blanket, I had a security Where the Wild Things Are (and a pretty tattered lion rattle). After school became a thing I had to do, I still read. Before school, during recess, at dinner, under the blanket with a flashlight... but never the book assigned.

So now I wonder about what exposure to books book-hating-adults had before they were adults. Did reading start at home? Did it end with school? And why are schools allowed to pick such dreadful reading material? And why didn't the parents, having seen their kids starting to hate the written word, never go to a library to find the right book?

I still won't leave the house without a book, you know? I still read before sleeping, with my morning coffee, during road trips, in between chores, in waiting rooms...the idea of hating books is foreign to me. I love them so much. 

So what happens that so many people strive to avoid books forever, once they're free of academic institutions? Why are so many academic institutions failing to teach kids the most important thing about books? 

Books aren't just for teaching; they're for enriching life. Good books are like  good spouses: They're there, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer...

What are your thoughts on the issue?

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