This morning I read a post on a writers’ forum that posed the question as to whether or not schools encouraged a love of reading in students, and/or how you developed your own.
A lot of people seem to despise the idea of ‘required’ reading in schools, but I never had a problem with it and still do not. I think that the writings of literary giants like Mark Twain, Jane Austin, Emily Dickerson, Edgar Allen Poe, Hemmingway, and etc have value in terms of themes and historical importance. It doesn’t matter if Twain wrote Tom Sawyer in the 19th century or not. Anyone with the capacity to comprehend what they’re reading will realize what’s being said and why it’s still relevant today. It seems like the value of reading comprehension is on the decline which is a sad state of affairs, if the attitude toward required reading is any indicator.
When I was in school we were also encourage/required to read what we wanted and were required to write a book report on it. I don’t know if schools still do this or not, but for me it encouraged my interest in reading and writing. Some of my best childhood memories are of being in a library and discovering new authors and books. I remember my mother taking me to the local library and bookshop when I was a kid on a regular basis. When I was in school and had study hall I would go to the library. For me it represented a place where I could escape the tedium and boredom of the rural area I lived in. I could go to wonderous worlds and encounter fascinating characters. Like a lot of kids I dealt with bullying and reading gave me an escape from that as well. My love of writing grew from my love of reading and they still continue to grow to this day.
A lot of people seem to put the entire development of reading and comprehension to the schools, which is a flawed way of thinking about it. As a fairly new father I’m aware that it is myself and my wife that are the major influences on the development of my young daughter. How we behave and what we do is her template for herself. We started reading to her while she was still in the womb and once she was born we take the time to read to her and encourage to turn pages and look at the pictures. One of the things I hope to pass onto her by encouragement is a love for the written word, regardless if it’s in a hardcover or a download. The most important thing is to enjoy reading and comprehend what it’s all about. Whether she choses to read the latest Young Adult novel or a nonfiction book on quantum mechanics doesn’t matter to me. What does is that she grows into a woman who values and appreciates the written word and can apply it to critical thinking in her everyday life as well as use it as a means of escape and entertainment.