One Thousand Words on Reading

I love to read. I’m not a fast reader. But I do love to read. I read fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and children’s books. I love being able to lose myself in a story. I find the fact that readers can become oblivious to the world around them while reading a good book almost magical. How do words transport you to a different place and time? The interaction between the reader and the text fascinates me.

This fascination hits me on several levels. First of all, I am a first grade teacher. My world is the world of beginning readers. There is a wide range of readers coming into my class each year, with the average first grader being able to read just a few basic words. By the end of the year, they are reading early chapter books. I love being a witness to such growth! I love working at the reading table with students and then, out of the corner of my eye, spying a student picking up a Junie B. Jones book for their free time book, usually one that I have read aloud to the class earlier in the year. I love observing this student reading aloud to a pretend class, reading the words with expression and acting it out dramatically. I know I’m seeing a reader lost in her own reading world. I love it!

I have also taught at the graduate level. My course was how to teach reading in the elementary school. We would discuss what goes on in the brain while you read. The recognition of letters, words, phrases, combined with inferences, predictions, visualizations, and other comprehension skills just amazes me. Think of all these processes going on, while you are just learning how to read! One of my assignments in my class was to have my students become more aware of what their brains were doing while they were reading. When you focus on it, it’s amazing how distracted you become… but it is a good experience for people who are teaching others how to read. We had some great class discussions based on this assignment.

As a reader, I am sometimes surprised by which books hook me and which books don’t. At one point, I tried reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and just could not get into it at all. I put it down and forgot about it for awhile. Then, it seemed as if I was the only person who hadn’t read it. My aunt read it and told me to try it again; she really thought I would love it. So I picked it up and was quickly transported to that place that readers go when they are absorbed in a book. What was different this time? The first time was during the school year and the second, I was on summer vacation. I think I brought the book to my daily visits to the beach and the deck.  Did the relaxed setting of summer make a difference? Probably… and I’m so glad it did! After reading Dragon Tattoo, I quickly read the second book in the series. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the third one. But, summer vacation has now started up again. I think the third book in the series will be on my reading list for the summer.

What amazes me about reading, is that so many of my closest friends and family members are not readers. This makes me very grateful for those few friends and family members that are. My friend Heather (from One Thousand Words Project) is a big reader. We can discuss books, trade books, and go to book retreats together. I also have an aunt that is a big reader. It is fun to discuss recent reads and borrow each others books. I had a great aunt who was a voracious reader. (I would love to be described as a voracious reader.) She lived well into her nineties and loved books her entire life. When her eyes got too bad to read, she moved onto audio books.

When I was little, I had a goal to read all the books in my town’s library. As I got older, I realized how big my town’s library was and knew I couldn’t do it. When I moved into my first apartment, in a smaller town, I set my goal again. But I moved after just three years so I didn’t meet that goal. Now, I just like to read. I know I won’t read all the books in the library… but I will just keep reading. I join several reading challenges, mostly because I love having an excuse to make lists! I don’t do well at completing many of the challenges… but I have fun trying.

I think my love of lists and reading is why I love the Dorothy Canfield Fscher list. This is a list of nominated books for the DCF award which Vermont students vote on each year. For the last few years I have tried to read all thirty nominated books, but haven’t made it. I have a good feeling about this year’s list. I started tackling this year’s list in June and I’ll be finishing my fourth book today. This might be the year I do it!

One thing that has surprised me over the last few months is that I absolutely love reading on my NOOKcolor. When the e-readers first came out, I was one of the people who kept saying, “I love the feel of a book, the turning of the pages.” But when the print in some books started getting too small for me to see, I started thinking of getting a NOOK. I LOVE it! I still lose myself in the story. It truly is the story that I love, not the feel of the book in my hand.

I think I’m going to go read for a bit… I hope you are able to pick up a good book today. 🙂

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5 Responses

  1. I didn’t like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo either. Maybe I will have to pick it up again someday. I am surprised by the number of people that don’t read too. I can’t imagine my life without reading. I also wasn’t sure if I would like an e-reader. I got a Kindle and LOVE IT! One thing about it I like is that you can’t actually see the pages that you still have to read, so if you read a 500 page book, it doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming! I loved your post!

  2. My family really aren’t readers either, so I think it surprises them that I turned out to be so bookish.

  3. I’d certainly call you a voracious reader. I’ve always wanted people to say that I have a rapier sharp wit, but I don’t so I guess that will never happen! 🙂

  4. What a lovely post! I knew you were a teacher but for some reason I didn’t realize it was first grade. What a special year to be someone’s teacher. I will always remember my first grade teacher fondly. She always provided me with plenty of books to read. Sister Rita Michael god bless her!

    My mom enjoyes readin but has slowed down quite a bit as she gets older. Plus her job is pretty tough and wears her out by the end of the day. As for Dragon Tattoo, I saw the movie but haven’t read the book yet, so I am the last one to read it 🙂

  5. blackdiamond: Thanks so much for the comment!

    Amanda: It’s funny that so many “bookish” people come from nonbookish families.

    HJClow: Next time we’re together I’m going to try to comment on your rapier sharp wit.

    Jennygirl: It looks like Sister Rita Michael did a good job. Thanks for the comment!

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