Monday, December 10, 2012

Wordcraft -- Resolution I: nurture readers

It’s time for resolutions for writers again. And despite last year’s list, I have a completely new list of resolutions, beginning with instilling a love of reading in others. (I hope you already possess this love yourself!)

“Why didn’t you tell me you write?” a non-writing friend asked. “I’ve always wanted to write.” It was all I could do not to reply, “because you told me a long time ago that you hardly ever read.” How can a person who doesn’t read expect to write?

But we writers have a bigger reason for wanting people to read than wanting them to enter the writing fraternity. We want them, at some point, to read our stories. The ability to read doesn’t in itself, automatically make people devote a share of their limited time, not to mention their money, to reading for its own sake. If people continue to read once they’re not forced to do so in school, we as writers, parents, teachers, mentors, have to help infuse them with a love for reading.

None of which went through my mind when I volunteered to read to students in my grandsons’ elementary school. I just wanted a chance to hang with a couple of my favorite guys.

If you don’t already know from reading some of these posts, speaking in public is one of my worst fears. And I’d volunteered to speak, if not exactly in public, at least in front of twenty-something six-year-olds. What was I thinking?

Of course, I’d read to my grandsons regularly, as had their parents, since before they could even talk. I asked their advice on what they wanted to hear and practiced reading through all the books beforehand. The school librarian must have encountered some fears in previous readers, because she kindly pointed out the location of the water fountain. Good thing -- my throat felt drier than a Texas dust storm. What if I opened my mouth and no words came out?

The words came out and the kids loved them. I’m scheduled for my fifth and sixth reading sessions of the semester this week. Still, every time I see the reading schedule,
there are vacancies. Spots where some adult could show kids what it’s like to love reading.

I volunteered to read to children through the PTA. You don’t have to have a child in school to join the local PTA or similar organization. Can’t take time off from work to read to others during the day? Check with your local library for other opportunities. And, of course, to enjoy reading, you first of all have to know how to read. Consider looking for opportunities to instill the basics of literary, through volunteer work with programs such as

Don’t forget to read to the children in your own family. And let them see you reading -- and loving it. The best place to foster a love of reading is at home.

(Next Monday -- Resolution 2: you can never know too many good words.)

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