Do you hate reading? Do you dread reading out loud to your children?
Would you rather read a simple children's picture book rather than a chapter book? Do you avoid reading aloud in public? Does a movie sound more appealing?
I Hated Reading Assignments
My experience with reading was pretty much the same from elementary school through multiple years of college. The end of a class would come, and we would be assigned to read a chapter or more of reading and I would panic. "Would I be able to read it all? How would I ever get it done?" Needless to say, I was far from a good reader. I was barely a mediocre reader.
As I got older I learned how to work around this problem. In textbooks, I would read the bold print along with the chapter intro and summary. For chapter books, I would read the beginnings and ends of chapters. So for over 20 years I would just pretend that I had read the assigned reading and sailed my way through school.
I Hated Reading Out Loud!
I also dreaded reading aloud. In any public setting, I would avoid it like the plague. Let's set the scene. I am sitting at church waiting for a class to start and the teacher asks me if I am willing to read something out loud. I don't show it, but I reluctantly say yes and secretly hope she gives me the smallest piece of paper. Once the paper is in my hand I look it over. "How long is it? Are there any words I don't know how to say correctly? Will I be able to read this smoothly?" So there I sit obsessing over the slip of paper, unable to concentrate on the rest of the lesson.
I HATED TO READ!
Not until I was 31, when I had a 4-year-old son, and new baby boy, did I decide that I had to learn to love reading. Why you ask? Well, there were a few reasons.
I wanted my kids to have an easier time in school when they were older.
I wanted to be able to say I had read a book before a movie came out in the theater. I was so tired of hearing people say how much better a book was than the movie. How could that be?
I was tired of being called on to read at church and working up a sweat as I quickly read over what I was expected to read out loud, hoping I wouldn't make a fool of myself.
I wanted to be able to read to my children and be good at it.
So How Did I DO IT?
I Found Motivation
I started small. As I just mentioned, I wanted to be able to read a book before its movie came out in theaters. Spiderwick was going to hit theaters a few months from when I had made this goal; so, I purchased the first book. It was small, had pictures and had larger print. I was completely shocked when I had finished it in less than 48 hours. I was so proud you would have thought I had read Les Misérables.
A Taste Of Success
I was so giddy that I got online and ordered the entire set. I was dying with anticipation. As soon as they arrived I gobbled them up. My 4-year-old son saw me choosing to read and read and read. He would look at the books, their pictures and ask me questions. I imagined all of the wonderful scenes and how grand they would look on the big screen. It drove me crazy that I had nobody to share my excitement with. After ignoring and delaying motherly responsibilities for a couple of days, I finally finished my first book series.
WHAT? The Book Is Better?
When the movie came out in theaters I was so excited to see it. I watched in horror as they changed the characters some, altered the story, and completely eliminated parts of the books. Although I was a tad disappointed, I was able to walk out of the theater and say, "The book was better!"
From there I got excited. I went onto eBay and purchased two more book series. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Chronicles of Narnia. I remember having to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the 5th grade and not being able to even follow the story line. I wanted to read the whole collection now.
I started with Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I had seen the movie with Jim Carrey years ago and loved it, so I wanted more. I enjoyed the first three books and then it started to get repetitive. I made it to book number five or six and then decided to give it a break. Next I decided to hit up Narnia. I wanted to read them all and in order.
The Time Was Well Worth It
I started while I was pregnant and continued to read them when I was feeding baby #2. I finished the series while feeding baby #3, four years later. For some that may seem like a ridiculous amount of time, but for me it was a small miracle. Now keep in mind that includes a big gap of not reading them at all. I pretty much stopped reading once I stopped breastfeeding boy #2 and being stuck on the couch and feeding boy #3. I had the goal but I still had not developed a love for reading. I had not created a culture of reading within my life. I read when it was convenient for me, and that was when I was pregnant and stuck in a chair feeding a baby.
Try Audio Books
Join a summer readng group for adults I had never really listened to audio books before, but I had a little mp3 player and I loaded it full of audio books. I listened to many short books that I had never heard of. I listened to every Harry Potter book. I listened to the first Hunger Games book. I even picked up some classics. What blew my mind was that people were able to physically read that many books within a few months. It was laughable for me to even think I could even accomplish the required goal.
Audio Books Opened A Whole New World To Me
Now some would say that I wasn't really reading the books. And you're right, I wasn't. But what I
was doing was exposing myself to literature. I listened to all sorts of stuff. Mysteries, children's chapter books, history, and more. I will admit that some of it even went right over my head because of writing styles or slang, which I was not used to hearing. And one down side to audio books is that your mind can easily become distracted by the things around you. That being said, audio books were a big step towards my falling in love with books.
But Were The Books Better Than The Movies?
I have been an avid movie viewer my entire life, and I was shocked at how much the movie industry messed with the story lines. Entire chapters missing because of the possible complexity of the scene, characters both added and eliminated, scenes altered, and more. I use to say to my book reading friends "Oh, I saw the Movie." when they would ask me if I had read a book. They would always tell me, "You have to read the book." After all of the listening I did, I could officially say that books were better than the movies.
Why Did I DO This?
We follow the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy of learning. And with that came the reading of classics, out loud to my children, every day. This step is what really gave the final push into loving books and reading. I didn't start simple either. I started with Doyle's Robin Hood because that was what my 6 and 2-year-old were interested in. We all learned together and I will never forget that experience together. I wanted my kids to see me enjoying books. I wanted to set an example and I wanted to inspire them to try new and hard things. So why bother? That's why!
Did This Experiment Work?
Now I can read quite well. I don't stumble over words, I can read literature from different time periods and I love learning new words. I enjoy pointing out hidden meanings to my kids and my speed has increased a lot. This coming from the person who practically failed a speed reading class, Seriously!
It is possible to turn yourself from a hater of reading to a lover of reading.
I never would have thought it possible but it really is. Start with just one page a day of a book that interests you. Try listening to some books. Pick super short books to start with so you can taste success.