And a little bit about why I hated to read as a kid, but WANTED to love it.
Reading, in truth, has always felt like a task to me. And that is mostly because of school over the years. I am a slow reader. Generally, it takes me about an hour to read 25-30 pages. Which means when my teachers assigned reading that was 60 pages or more for one night’s worth of reading, I knew I was going to be up half the night. 2 1/2 hours of reading and then math always took at least 2-3 hours because my math skills are rather primate like. So basically, reading in school was more like eating force fed baby food than it was fun.
To top that off, the material was less than thrilling. I will always have a prolonged hatred for Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne. And not because their material sucks, but because they are single handily responsible for the lowering of my GPA. I don’t care about Pip or a woman forced to wear the scarlet letter for adulteress or whatever it was. I find the story of how Jews were forced to swear the Jewish Star of David during WWII much more intriguing than the story of one woman and an accusation laid against her. (No pun intended).
If teachers bothered to teach material that was interesting to teens and the school boards realized that teens and kids are not taking anything away from these materials, the literature taught in schools could change entirely. These books have their place, their purpose, and are in fact masterpieces. But wouldn’t we be doing better by our students if we were to teach material they could actually relate to? There are plenty of YA genres out there that teens can get into and that should be taught on the syllabus. These classic pieces don’t resonate with kids and teens because we no longer live in a time where their significance if really relevant to their daily lives.
If that means teaching Harry Potter, or some dystopian material for YA, then so be it. As long as kids learn to enjoy reading rather than referring to it with slander because they are forced to retain all this 100 year old material. The main reason why I hated reading in school was because of testing and quizzes on the material I was reading. I wasn’t enjoying it, therefore I wasn’t retaining it. And if I don’t retain it, then I am not getting a good grade on the essay or the test. I used to associate reading with having to reiterate the deeper meaning inside the assignment, making reading always feel like work rather than play time. And I truly believe that this is why so many kids hate to read. Hell, it was why I hated to read and still sometimes struggle with being able to enjoy a book rather than feeling like I have to process every single word because there will be a pop quiz question asking what the name of the street was that the main character lives one. And yes, I had one such teacher ask that question on a pop quiz on George Orwell’s “1984”. Still a good book and relevant, but dystopian book for YA these days can say much more than it can through modern author’s usage of contemporary scenarios. Example: The Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend.
All the while, I wanted to love reading. And I am finally back in a place where I do and it relaxes me before bedtime. People who read are always associated as academic or nerds. And I fit into the category quite well. Not ashamed of it. How else would I have a masters in Museum Studies if I didn’t fully embrace my inner history nerd?
Did you run into anything of this nature is school? Please tell me I am not the only one out there who has to re-teach myself how to enjoy reading and not see it as a homework assignment?