Now that it's almost summer, it's time to pick out some good beach reads. I have several already piled up on the hand-painted cupboard by my bed. Summer is the best time to read for pure enjoyment. To get into a great book and be able to read for hours is wonderfully satisfying. I hope to instill this love of reading in my students. Some of them step into my classroom loving books, while others struggle to decode words and have difficulty comprehending what they've read. Some would rather play video games and watch TV. It's my job, as a teacher, to help make reading come to life for these kids. When I can achieve this, then I feel like I'm making a difference in their lives.
A very special student who I've had the pleasure of working with this year, is finally beginning to enjoy books. We discovered together that he likes to read about history, about events that happened in the past. I think he became fascinated by the fact that these people lived before us. "Before me?" he would ask. "Before you?" I would nod and say, "Yes, before us." We would do the math together and discover how many years ago these events took place. And he was intrigued by the fact that these events really happened, they weren't just made up stories. This was quite a revelation to his parents and me, and quite exciting for him. He finally asked to keep reading. And his parents finally began to read to him and to realize the benefits of just reading for the pleasure of it, not only to read to decode words and to become more fluent but to take pleasure in the act of reading. How wonderful for them. How satisfying for me.
My own three children are readers and this, as you can imagine, is a thrill for me. Maybe I didn't do everything right, but I gave them a love for reading. Being readers ourselves can be one of the best gifts we can give to children. It may take time for some, but eventually they come around. Like I wrote about in an earlier post, I didn't read often for pleasure as a child. I read because I had to. I read for tests and book reports and to write papers. My parents read by lamp light every evening, and my siblings read a lot, as well. Eventually, I, too, became a lover of books and reading. A natural progression.
By the way, what are your summer reading picks? I just started "The Murderer's Daughters" by Randy Susan Myers. A book recommended by my brother, Dell, as he knows the author. He has taken writing courses with Ms. Myers at the Grub Street Writers' Center in Cambridge, MA. It's quite compelling so far. As a matter of fact, it's calling me right now...