By Barbara Boyle, Lower School Reading Specialist
Recently, I came upon a book that contains revealing essays written by over 100 authors, literacy experts, poets, librarians, and researchers. In the book, titled Open a World of Possible: Real Stories about the Joy and Power of Reading (Scholastic, 2014), contributors share the reading moments that enriched their lives and made them who they are today.
Most tell of their experiences when they suddenly became fluent readers, almost magically, because they wanted to find out what happens to the characters with whom they identified. From Curious George to Harry Potter, that excitement is experienced over and over again, and we see how the magic of books discovered can transform lives.
Some of the essayists reflect on experiences in primary classrooms where Dick and Jane readers ruled and reading was a painful experience that focused on the mechanics and minutiae of reading. They didn’t like to read until a certain teacher, family member, or good friend introduced them to a book and then something really clicked for them. The rest is history, for, as you probably already know, once you find joy in reading your life is forever changed!
As I was reading these essays, I began thinking about my own reading story. I remembered the Golden Books, with their cherished illustrations and simple text. I loved my Highlights and Weekly Reader magazines. I read and reread Black Beauty and Dr. Doolittle. I collected four-leaf clovers and tucked them inside my Nancy Drew Mysteries; I felt that the clovers had found a worthy new home, pressed between the pages of my favorite books. (Much to my dismay, when I moved into my own apartment after college, my mother donated those Nancy Drew Mysteries to a local charity. I was broadsided by that news, a double-whammy as I lost my favorite childhood books along with those lucky shamrocks!)
Becoming a reader is nothing short of miraculous. So what is your reading story? What books captured you and took you away to another place or time and held your interest so well that you couldn’t put that book down?
This summer, help the students or young children in your lives create their special reading stories. Help them discover how to “Open a World of Possible.”