By Craig Funston
They say that March is National Book Month, so I need to speak up in celebration of literacy This is my chance to join the “volumes” of librarians, authors, publishers, teachers, and readers in celebrating “books.”
I don’t know who taught me how to read back in grade one or grade two, back in1961-1962. I think it was Miss Lamont at B. W. Garrett in Richmond, BC. I will ever be grateful for that significant contribution she made to my life. I can’t imagine not being able to read. Colouring pictures gets so boring after a while, you know. And I know I could read more, even though I read everyday as it is.
As a homeschooler supervisor, I am seeing countless devoted mothers, who may or may not even have grade 8 education themselves, teaching their own kids to read. These Mennonites mothers are making a tremendous contribution to our province in that way alone.
I hope our friends in Alberta Ed appreciate that.
I feel sad when I hear of people—kids and adults– who want to read, but don’t have the opportunity to learn how to. But I feel angry when I know of those who can read, but rarely do it—and even then, only when they have to. What an absolute waste of a privilege!
I cannot remember a night that I didn’t go to bed without reading something, sometimes parts of two books or magazines! I have a wide variety of books and magazines on my shelves. I think we have a bookcase in every room in my house, and that inclues the bathrooms.
(After all, where do you put Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader?)
I know there is something out there called e-book and Kindle, but I’m not into that style. I’m old school when it comes to reading. I like flipping pages and holding the book. Not sure if that makes me a tactile reader, but, boy, that sure sounds intelligent. Nor does it mean that I’m right (or stubborn, for that matter); it just means that I like a particular approach to reading. There is no right or wrong to it; more of a this way or that way.
The key is to get of your duff and read. (No, no, actually, it means stay on your duff and read.)
Books are likely the easiest, cheapest, and fastest form of entertainment. Kids can read in the backseat without the racket of a cd or a dvd; they can curl up on the couch for hours on end, and there’s no serious distraction; or they can head to bed early and snuggle up with a book.
The same applies to the adults in newspaperland: Why go out to a movie when you can curl up with a mug of tea and find all the excitement, grim, suspense, and laughter within the covers of a book? No need to travel to Bali, Belize, Barbados, or Bolivia, when you can do it (virtually) at home—for next to nothing?
For myself, I read mysteries, histories, and biographies. They put me in situations that I don’t have the time, money, or ability to pursue–and perhaps I’m just too chicken to do. If they are too intimidating, I just shut the book and crawl under the covers—and scream for help under my pillow.
I can travel for free and for as long as I want when I read a book. The one thing I have to pack is my imagination. The only jetlag I ever experience is a numb arm from being immobile for so long—and another part of my anatomy from sitting on it too long (too polite to mention the word here).
So why do people, boys especially, not enjoy reading? I have no idea. Maybe my boys are different, but they all love (present tense) reading. It took them years after the girls started reading to get into it, but when they did, they really did. They have advanced so far in so many areas because of it. We as parents modeled it, so I’m sure that was a factor.
It’s not the only reason, of course: We made books available throughout the house. We encouraged reading (another form of modeling). We read to them when they were younger (okay, my wife did most of it, but I did my fair share).
Reading, then enjoying reading, and finally, maintain a reading lifestyle helps immensely, of course; but it also helps with directions, instructions, maps, street signs, and trouble-shooting, for starters.
If you read this column and understood it, maybe you should go thank your own Miss Lamont.