If you can read this, thank a teacher. Reading is a skill that both fascinates and frustrates us from an early age. Mastering this ability takes time, energy, patience, and, for some, multiple boxes of Kleenex. Reading opens the doors to myriad opportunities and is a privilege that many do not have access to. According to LiveScience.com, one in seven people in the United States cannot read this sentence. As Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
April is Family Reading Month; below are a few suggestions to help you celebrate by encouraging your children, or perhaps yourself, to read more.
Visit a library
As more newspapers and books have become available online, the average number of public library visits by individuals per year decreases. However, most libraries offer a variety of free benefits to the public, including access to computers, journals, videos, magazines, and, of course, books! Getting a library card is a simple process that helps you save money while supplying a vast repository of knowledge and resources. While at the library, you may even discover books you never knew existed when a title or the cover of a book catches your eye.
Read, reflect, repeat
As Edmund Burke said, “Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” People will not learn as much about the book they are reading if they move through it rapidly, without stopping to ponder the ideas they are subconsciously absorbing. Allowing ideas and thoughts to ruminate in your mind can help you better remember what you read. In a sense, reading should be conversational; just as thoughts merge into ideas when you talk with someone, reading should homogenize thoughts and opinions into ideas. Another good way to do this is to journal your thoughts: it preserves your musings so that you can access them at a later date.
A word for auditory learners
Some people suffer from learning disorders while others simply learn best through other senses. Dyslexia or eyesight failure should not be excuses for avoiding books; the audio versions of many books are available and can be listened to in the car on the way to work, while jogging at the gym, before bed, and in many other ways. Listening to someone read to you can be soothing. Some people even remember information better this way. Furthermore, listening to books on tape can improve pronunciation, inflection and vocal reading abilities by listening to the reading skills of others.
As Emilie Buchwald said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Discussing books and articles you have read with family, friends, teachers, and others can increase your knowledge of a subject and help you better articulate your thoughts. Others’ opinions may inspire, anger or motivate you to learn and ponder text or an idea further. Latin plays and Shakespearean poems are not the only materials that evoke profitable discussions; however, reflecting on what you read may cause you to question the information you are deliberately and subconsciously absorbing. Does it honor God? How does it benefit you? What books will challenge you to think outside of your comfort zone? What articles do you disagree with, and why?
In his book I can Read With My Eyes Shut!, Dr. Seuss simply states, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Reading is a privilege, a freedom and a gift. God calls us to read and meditate on his word and the things of him. Celebrate Family Reading Month by immersing you and your family in literature that will cause you to grapple with foreign concepts and uncomfortable convictions.