My dear friend and colleague, Karen, gave me a plaque that reads “Asking Me If I Like Reading is Like Asking Me If I Like Breathing.” I was so happy my love of reading was so perfectly captured. The word “like” is used three times, so it really captures my feelings. I liked reading when I got my first Golden books for my 6th birthday. I liked reading when my dad bought me my first book at a school book fair. I continue to like reading as I visit school and public libraries as I work my way through a lifetime of mysteries.
However, to be fair, I can also remember not liking reading when I was in the reading circle in first grade. My teacher moved me up to a “better” reading group, and I guess I was not quite ready. When she asked me to figure out what the dog said, I instantly replied with my best growl and bark. The right answer was “Bow Wow.” I was moved back down to another reading group. I had the context answer right, but I did not have the letter/sound answer right. To be fair, my dog never said “Bow Wow.”
I also was not sure I liked reading as I worked my way through three degrees. The Handbook of Reading Research (pick any volume) is quite a heavy book in weight and in ideas. I did not necessarily like reading the whole thing, but I admit reading the entire tome helped me get a wide understanding of every aspect of reading, reading education, and reading difficulties. So, in the long run, I came to appreciate reading the Handbooks and tolerating the experience.
I continue to like reading, and I have based my life work on reading. In many ways, my reading is automatic just like breathing. Reading is entrenched in my leisure, in my daily routines, and in my work. All of my jobs have included some aspect of reading, starting with my first job at The Leaf Chronicle (a local newspaper) where I worked during college in the advertising department as a lay-out person and proofreader. My teaching jobs at public schools, community colleges, and at universities all have a literacy base. I like reading so much I sometimes take it for granted. However, each year as I need better and better glasses, I am beginning to wonder what I would do with my time if I could not read as much as I do. I am still looking for that answer, and I am thankful for my glasses. So, the analogy of breathing and reading is just perfect every day. I am grateful someone noticed.