As usual when I return from a writing conference, I’m jazzed about writing. This time I’m excited about reading as well. One of our conference speakers HelenKay Dimon, spoke about her childhood and that she read as an escape from her parents and being bullied at school. It’s a recurring story with readers. They don’t always read for education, they read to be transported to a magical place where in the end, everything turns out the way it should be.
Dimon mentioned an author who believed something different.
“You should never read just for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books.’ Ones you have to concentrate on while reading.” — John Waters
This might not have been the exact quote she used, but it was the general idea. People who think like Waters and those who impose their views on the kids of the world are wrong. One of the biggest struggles to encouraging readers is because we make them read social studies textbooks and worksheets looking for the main idea. Or we tell a child to only read one chapter in a book for class. If a student wants to read the entire book in one sitting, who cares? He’s reading.
The goal of teachers should be to help students find books that pique their interests and open their minds to the world of fiction writing. For my son it was the Magic Tree House books. He devoured them. I kept throwing books at him until he found a series he wanted to read and read and read.
I’m not saying reading news and textbooks are wrong, I am the editor of a newspaper after all, but that will come. When children realize they can read for information or can find a connection to a story, they will read it.
Fiction can change lives. Romance, which I write, can teach women to expect more from men. It gives them hope that their perfect match is out there. Men could benefit from reading romance because they could learn what women want and expect.
Adventure books, mysteries, romance, sci fi, whatever your genre is…read!
In the end, isn’t that all we want, a happily ever after?