The magic of reading—August 31, 2012
Once again, HPL’s summer reading program was an amazing success. I miss the daily influx of people whose common goal was to enjoy the fun and comfort of books. Our building is a more tranquil place since the beginning of a new school year, but the quest for a steady diet of books continues. Some people enter our library with an organized list of coveted materials while others browse until something catches their eye. The factor they all share is a love of reading or maybe a need for reading.
As hard as it is to understand, some people don’t want to read. For example, a pre-teen I’ll call Bart was gently nudged by his grandmother to find a good book. With some bravado, he rejected her suggestion, but his body language failed to hide his discomfort. With all the possibilities for great reading, how could he resist the opportunity to dive into a good book? I detected a hint of sadness or, maybe, anger. What if his reading skills were poor? Should he be forced to learn? Would Bart be able to quit school if he didn’t like it? Probably not. It’s the same for reading. Generally, people who are readers are more successful and higher on the socioeconomic ladder.
So what can a parent do to encourage a love of books? It’s important to introduce reading materials early. Mem Fox in her book, “Reading Magic” reveals the three secrets of reading. The first of these is The Magic of Print. If you opened a cookbook to a cake recipe written in hieroglyphics, would the cake ever get made? If Emmaline isn’t exposed to reading until the age of five, she would probably view letters as meaningless scribble, but if in her first year, books are introduced, she will begin to understand the connection between words and “scribble”. The next secret is The Magic of Language. When you chatter away with Emmaline, she is absorbing an understanding of language. Singing, poetry, and conversations all help develop a strong reading ability. The last secret is The Magic of Knowledge, which grows with life experiences and with daily reading.
As Emmaline’s reading ability grows, should she read comic books and magazines? The most important thing is to read. She has probably grown to be an “engaged” reader, which is a measure of her want-to attitude about books. It can be measured by how frequently she reads and how much she enjoys it. By the way, comic books read daily appear to have a very positive affect on reading ability. Jim Trelease explains these ideas and others in “The Read Aloud Handbook” along with an extensive list of recommended books.
Another good reference, which may help entice a hesitant reader is “Wow! I’m Reading!” by Jill Frankel Hauser, which includes games and projects designed to build reading skills. I can’t resist mentioning “Gotcha for Guys” by Kathleen Baxter and Marcia Kochel, which contains 250 plus pages of non-fiction titles, many with mini book reports, and the names of popular authors.
HPL houses many other books with lists with recommended reading and also Resource materials to aid in improving reading skills or introducing them. Everyone should have the opportunity to get bitten by the reading bug! Okay, everyone….READY, SET…….READ!!!