When does a reader fall in love with reading? It isn’t the moment an individual learns to read, or even when a book is read and enjoyed. It’s that unforgettable moment when someone reads a story, article, quote, or book that transforms the reading experience, or the person doing the reading. For one member of our faculty, it was the moment she realized that individual and almost insignificant letters created words with meaning. For others, it’s a feeling that’s like coming home. It’s that book that has stayed with us and changed us somehow.
Readers all have that story. For some, it happens early on, while others don’t have that experience until later in life. To be clear, it isn’t about a lack of literacy or advanced reading skills, it’s about an experience that opens the door for an enhanced quality of life. Reading lets us travel to exotic lands, and explore experiences and situations we may never encounter (or even want to encounter). Reading allows us to learn, but also allows us to explore emotions--from joy and elation to sorrow and bitterness-- and allows us to experience our innermost fears, desires, and curiosities.
“We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth.”
– John Lubbock
On a daily basis, our Sacred Heart Library is an oasis in the midst of schedules, deadlines, and social stimulation. While not without its active and busy moments, our Library is a place where our students can find their own “moment”. Beginning with some of our youngest children and continuing into our Senior School, classes enjoy independent reading opportunities and spontaneous book talks. Just today, an avid reader in grade 6 hugged her book while discussing how the author had woven such a well-written story that she felt as if she were a friend who had stepped into the novel, rather than an outsider looking in. She’s a reader who experienced her moment last year. There are others who eagerly talk about books, ask questions, and seek to find “the” book. It will come.
Our annual reading program, which this year has a “Classics” theme, is a good time to support your child as they experience books and settle into reading routines. For new readers, or those who are out of practice, patience and encouragement to sit still and read for an agreed-upon amount of time is enough. Opportunities for daily or weekly independent reading are beneficial to all students. They develop self-discipline, self-motivation, concentration, literacy, and comprehension, and most importantly, an opportunity for enjoyment and escape.
As a librarian, I wish I could write about every experience I have with each student and their reading journey. Some students are so earnest while others have me laughing with them as they describe a character’s antics or their own reactions. And yet others come to me weekly just to ask for another book recommendation that inevitably results in a quick drop to the book return when they think I’m not looking!
In the end, what value do we place on reading and its benefits? We educate students to read. But we encourage them to love reading. Why? Because it’s something that will stay with them long after their formal education ends. It will become a way to cope with stress, bring comfort, or inspire adventure. It can be anything they want it to be. And, it will last a lifetime.