As children, we loved to have a book read to us just before going to sleep. They were so comforting. You got to spend time with your mom or dad, snuggling under the covers, hanging on every word until your little eyes couldn’t take it anymore. Remember those days?
In elementary school you had the reading groups. The stories were interesting. They were simple to read, and each week you got to go to the library and check out a book you wanted to read. The first ones I remember were the Biography of Andrew Jackson and Seacathch: the Story of a Fur Seal. I loved those books. In fact, I read them several times! I couldn’t wait to get more.
Then you graduated to middle school, high school or college. What a difference! Read chapter 6 in History, chapter 15 and 16 in Biology, and don’t forget Act 3 scenes 4 and 5 of Hamlet – all for tomorrow’s class and, oh yes, there may be a test over the material. Your college classes are so demanding. The chapters now have increased to 50 or 60 pages each, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time for everything. Unless you thrive on reading these epistles, you would probably rather take a dose of Castor Oil.
We killed it! What happened? What events transpired to put such a bad taste in your mouth for reading? There is nothing that you voluntarily want to read. What makes you shy away from these outside readings?
In my opinion, books need to be fun (humor) and interesting (surprise). I want to read things that get my attention quickly and are easy to read.I favor books that provide information that is actually useful and relatable (things of value). I want to be drawn in (belonging to a group) and not be able to put the book down. Of course, I also look for books with big print and lots of pictures! Am I revealing too much about myself here? Pay close attention to the parentheses – see the connection?
As educators, do we apply these criteria to books we choose for our students to read, or do we choose books based on philosophical principles that we as individuals hold dear? Sometimes we choose the former, but other times we go out on a limb and choose books which are boring, uninteresting and likely to end up as door stops or dust catchers.
If your institution has a program to promote outside reading, maybe book selections should be made with the student in mind. Read the book first, then ask yourself: “If I were a student, would I read this book? How has this book helped me?” You may be surprised at your answer.
See you later between the lines!