Slice of Life: Reading Can Push You To Embrace Your Journey #SOL19 #TWTBlog
Thank you … I have been thinking about what you said.
I turn to locate the voice. Is he talking to me?
Our eyes meet.
You came to my class last week. You told us that reading isn’t always easy for you. Teachers don’t say things like that. They always say they love reading. You didn’t say that. I have been thinking about it.
My mind rewinds to the lesson I taught in his class. I remember the lesson. I shared a time when my reading life wasn’t strong. I shared an entry from my reader’s notebook.
Since my mom died in January, I have had a lot of trouble reading. My mind wanders, I lose track of the plot, and I cannot seem to connect with the characters. I need to read for my job. I have been able to get through the books I need to read and even analyze them, but the joy just hasn’t been there for me. I notice that I have not been reading for pleasure. I have tried lots of different types of books and modalities – paper, digital, and audio. I have tried reading at different times of the day and in different places. My heart just isn’t in it and my brain is following suit.
I then showed them an entry from my notebook six months later:
I told them my story. I told them that I lost my reading life because I thought reading had to be something you loved. I shared that I realized reading is not always about joy, passion or escape. That year, when my mom died, I realized reading can also be something you need. Something hard. Something painful. Something that pushes you to embrace your journey. You see, characters can be friends. Characters just may understand your story better than your own family or friends. Books may not call to you. You might need to fight hard to get what you need from books. It might be brutal to open a book you need each night, but you know it is how you will find a way to breathe again.
I told them these books became my mentors and I began to write. I wrote through the heartache. I wrote through my tears. I wrote to understand and to hope. For the first time, I truly looked to authors to guide me. I discovered what it meant to read like a writer. I found myself continually shifting between reading and writing – some days more reading and some more writing. As an adult, I had control over my reading life. I decided when, how and what I would read. This choice allowed me to find my way into reading at a time when it has been difficult for me. I now make it a point to share my reading story with kids. I know there must be some who need to hear my story.
My experience has pushed me to think about the options we are providing for our students in school. Do we need to have our reading and writing workshops completely separate? Can we have more of a flow between reading and writing? Is there space for our students to choose the best mode for their literate thinking on a particular day or period of time? Do we allow for students to when the work they need to do as a reader is writing and the work they need to do as a writer is reading?
I think we need to check in with our readers and writers to find out how things are going for them. We need to understand how they are feeling and why they are feeling the way they are if we want to engage them. Once we understand our readers, I hope we can create the space for them to find themselves if they lose their way. I hope we honor what they need and give them options so they can once again find purpose and joy in their reading and writing lives.
I realize I have been lost in my own train of thought. He turns to go on his way, and he leaves me with words to guide me as an educator:
School sometimes makes me feel like if I don’t love reading something is wrong. I don’t always love reading. I find it hard. My teacher said you teach teachers about reading so if you had a hard time reading it makes me feel better. It makes me believe I can be a reader.
I believe you are a reader. Thank you for sharing your story with me.
Here are some other books I explored that year and since: https://www.pinterest.com/clarelandriganliteracy/text-set-when-a-loved-one-has-dementia/
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers, and teachers here.