How often do you actually read? I have always considered myself a proficient and avid reader. It has always been something I loved. In high school and college I collected books, making sure that my personal library was full of the classics and other “highbrow” literature. Then, I hit the real world and my time for things slowly began to diminish. Suddenly I looked up and realized that I hadn’t read a book in more than a year!
In library school I was taught that if you instill a love of reading in a child you can create life-long readers. But can you? Is that all there is to it? I learned to love reading as a child and never had it beaten out of me by the stereotypical bad teacher. In fact my love of literature was strengthened by my teachers (I know I was pretty lucky in that respect). Yet, here I am almost 27 years old and it’s a miracle if I read a book every few months. My jobs, my family, and mainly – the TELEVISION get in my way. I find myself staring at the TV night after night when I know I should be reading and the only time my book will take precedent over The Walking Dead or New Girl is if I’m so engrossed in it that I can’t wait to pick it up again.
That’s the key isn’t it? We have to LIKE what we’re reading. Once I stopped telling myself I had to read the classics and started reading what I really wanted to read I found myself more excited about it. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a time and a place for the classics, but for me to read Charles Dickens or Toni Morrison I need to dissect the symbolism and really focus. I don’t have time for that. Life moves at a fast pace and as I’ve already mentioned, it’s just a miracle I am reading.
Society doesn’t appreciate this though. I constantly read about adult illiteracy and how most adults are only reading on a “functional” level. Most recently, there was an article in the news about high school seniors and their ability to only read at a 5th grade level. This irritates me, because if you pay attention to the article, the source of this information is simply a survey of “what kids are reading.” Yes, high school kids, FOR FUN are reading 5th grade level books. Sounds bad, right? But do you know what Accelerated Reader (who is the company giving us the level) considers 5th grade? You would be surprised. I’m willing to bet 90 percent of adults I know (including myself) and consider highly literate tend to read 5th grade-level books on a regular basis. According to their website www.arbookfind.com, Charles Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” comes in at less than a 10th grade reading level and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” is only 6th grade. So if the classics are less than a 12th grade reading level, where do you think these recent books I’ve found myself enjoying lie? At the same level as our supposed “illiterate” high school seniors.
At WaveCloud we believe that WHAT you read is far less important that IF you read. The fact that I am stimulating my mind with something other than my favorite TV show is all that should matter. Adults already have so many obstacles against them and their reading; they should not also be made to feel ashamed of what level they read at. DO NOT be timid to carry your copy of The Hunger Games on the train in the mornings, do not fear the term “YA Lit” (Young Adult Literature) or hide your comic book from your girlfriend.
YOU ARE READING, which is more than most can say. Reading what you love is how you continue being a life-long reader. Graphic novels, non-fiction, magazines, websites, all of these are a form of reading and if they are what you enjoy, go with it! Get out from in front of that television (just DVR it for later) and find something that appeals to you. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games movie but trust me, the book was 10 times better.