This past weekend I had the luxury of uninterrupted reading time, so I took advantage and devoured the book Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. I soooo enjoyed it, and it moved me so much that I found myself basically crying throughout the whole novel--and you know I'm a sucker for books that make me cry. It was such a pleasure to immerse myself in the story and with the characters. I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately, as I've been trying to slog through another novel that just isn't keeping my interest
Reading Okay for Now reminded me of two articles I've read over the last two weeks. The first was the recent essay by Robert Lipsyte, "Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?" He says:
If we’re to counter this tendency and encourage reading among boys who may collectively resist it, boys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers.
Okay for Now is definitely the type of book I think boy readers would enjoy. It features a great male narrator, sports, brother-brother and father-son relationship issues, and the drama of a tough home life. But there's also horseshoes, Broadway, Audubon, art, and romance. Something for everyone.
The second was an article linked to from Shelf Awareness with the provocative title "We Can't Teach Students to Love Reading."
Personally, I think just reading this long, rather dry article would turn someone off reading. (In fact, it infuriated my friend who has been in education for over a decade and is also a student of history.) One of the article's main points:
The extreme reader, to coin a phrase, is a rare bird indeed. ("I have done what people do, my life makes a reasonable showing," Lynne Sharon Schwartz writes. "Can I go back to my books now?") Such people are born, not made, I think; or mostly born and only a little made.
I think extreme readers are made every day--how many of us have heard people (children, mainly) say that they never liked reading until they read XX book, or that after they had this teacher or read that book, they forever acquired a love of reading?
But this part gave me pause:
I don't know whether an adult who has never practiced deep attention—who has never seriously read for information or for understanding, or even for delight—can learn how.
I wonder. How many people have made it to adulthood without the love of reading, only to acquire it later? Do any of you have any real-life examples?