Monday, January 27, 2014

Free to Read

Cover for DU Magazin, Switzerland. Olaf Hajek. Copyright © 2010.

Most elementary schools have daily assigned reading homework ranging from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the grade level. It’s a good idea to require beginning readers practice time.To become a proficient reader takes practice. There’s no way around that. The goal to all this practice is to become proficient enough to reap the reward of reading as a pleasure, a hard concept to convey to students when they are struggling with their reading homework.

Picking out a book that will transport a reader is the key to the secret pleasure garden that awaits a reader that has put in the practice.The Harry Potter series unlocked the door for many readers, taking them from a short book at the start of the series and advancing in length and complexity as Harry, the boy wizard aged and met more mature challenges. Even the Twilight series, that much maligned, high romance, low literary, paranormal series did much to convert non-readers into reading fans.

Many adults have opened the door to their own pleasure reading with the Harry Potter or Twilight series. I’d like to see all adults giving themselves this gift of free choice pleasure reading, even if it takes instituting an artificial, "minutes read" goal at first. Don’t forget to allow yourself the freedom to choose a book meant for a child or teen.There are still some adults that dismiss these books as being beneath the dignity of a serious adult reader, but they may be closet readers of these series as well. You don't have to tell them your book titles, but if you do, you may be surprised to discover a like-minded reading buddy.

2002, David Fichter. School Mural, "Joy of Reading"
In an ironic shift, I have given myself “free choice” permission to read books meant for adults. I feel as guilty for doing it as some adult readers feel when they check out the Twilight series, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. I am finding that the lines have been blurred between a book meant for a child and one meant for an adult. Writing quality is both good and bad, no matter the intended audience. It has been an interesting couple of months. Meet me in the secret reading garden. Bring your book of choice because I am looking for more reading buddies of my own.

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