You may also like...

24 Responses

  1. Joanne says:

    My father and his siblings were abandoned, circulated among the relatives or housed in the Children’s Home. My aunt wrote about her childhood, and the peace of the Home, where she could sit in a corner of a room with more books than imaginable and read and read and read. The matrons also gave her a little birthday cake; the only one of her childhood. Even now I know adults whose reading was Highlights for Children in the doctor/dentist office, who exploded into the world of literature when able to get to a library, find books at a relative’s house. It’s almost a sin to separate children and books. I wonder what happened to your young man, that he closed his mind.

  2. Avie Layne says:

    I made many connections to specific books that I read as a child. Some of them impacted me enough that I sought them out, purchased them, and am in the process of recording them for my grandchildren. It was the love of reading that was my own escape from feeling very invisible; a proverbial wall-flower to those around me. I close my eyes and remember reading under the apricot tree and resonating with characters such as Jo from “Little Women”, Claudia in “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler”, and Julie from “The Island of the Blue Dolphins”. Characters who were independent, strong, intelligent, and certainly NOT invisible. Perhaps if the young man doesn’t read, he would try an audio book.

  3. Magpie says:

    That’s a great question and great answers. In elementary school, early on, my kid was taught to think about the “text to self connection”. It sounds horribly jargony, but it’s the thing that gets you in the book.

  4. lime says:

    oh i feel your pain. i can’t believe how many people find out what i do for a living and gleefully declare themselves as never reading. it hurts my heart too. and i must say you handled pool player better than i believe i would have.

    but these two students. bless them both. may they ever find solace, encouragement, strength, and resonant truth in the pages of a book.

  5. chlost says:

    Yes! This is why I read, I imagine this is why writers write. Those two students of yours-may life continue its upward path for them, and with many more books along the way. My husband struggles with reading. I think he was a never-diagnosed dyslexic of the mid-1950’s. It is one of the the things that I wish were different; I would love to read together, to discuss books together. My grandchildren are nearly buried in books. It is one of my greatest joys to see my oldest granddaughter, at age 7, devouring a book, then recommending it to me to read, “Because it is really good!” I have now added several Cam Jansen mysteries to my reading list.

  6. Bijoux says:

    I read about two books a week, but I have time on my hands that most people do not. I love that you have the students make connections between themselves and literature. My daughter who has autism wrote a wonderful essay in college connecting her struggles with The Odyssey.

  7. Pearl says:

    I, too, love the books.

    And want to trip the student who has the gall to state — STATE! — that he hasn’t read a book and never will.

    Thank you so much, Citizen.

    The ones you reach? How wonderful.


  8. Kate says:

    You know what I think is interesting about your “I’ll never read anything” student? He just HAD to share that in a place where he was sure you would hear. Am immature and grossly overstated comment meant to shake your confidence.
    I love your students’ thoughtful comments. Do you teach in an alternative high school? From your anecdotes in this entry and previous ones, I see that your students have a lot of baggage.
    The thing that intrigued me about Little Bee was her resilience and her ability to combine forces with her English friend to face their fears together. The unfortunate truth, though is that her fears, when faced, were manifested, and the men came for her in the end.

  9. First of all, kudos to you for turning those two into the Society of the Readerhood. I share your pain, I really do. At present I am delivering a programme to children from Years 4 and 5 who are reluctant readers. We’re trying to engage them through football. Slowly but surely we’re breaking through. It helps that they always see me with a book.

    Great post. I enjoyed it a lot.

    Greetings from London.

  10. Deborah says:

    I wanted two things for each of my children – to be readers of books, and to be huggers. One and a half are the first, and two are the second. I cannot imagine how different my own childhood would have been without the dozen books that my mother wheedled out of the librarian every two weeks. The limit was three, and Mom knew that would never be enough. Losing myself in stories was nearly an addiction, and I had nothing to escape from – just that the world within the pages was infinitely more interesting than my own.

    I understand why your heart sags when you’re faced with non-readers (especially stupidly defiant ones) and also the surge of authentic happiness you feel when you’re turned a student on to the power of books. (It’s not your power, dear Jocelyn, as you know, but your passion – a much-abused word that in this case is actually appropriate – that they succumb to.) Being the facilitator of someone’s discovery of the beauty of words (or music) is something to take to bed with you, and should keep you from ever doubting the reason for your existence.

    I admire your tenacity and your unwillingness to be undone by ignorance. I can see how dispiriting it would be to be faced with that, but you never know what unexpected spark you might strike in what unlikely mind.

    Thank you to your students for allowing you to share their words.

  11. Meg says:

    You made me cry. Your students’ connection with literary characters is why I write. So that someone, somewhere may connect with my words and feel not so alone; because that is what books did for me. They were my friends and my escape. That you have been able to help to build the bridge between reader and book is truly awesome. They will never forget you; you have changed their lives.

  12. kmkat says:

    I wonder if the defiant male reader is actually such a poor reader that he finds the struggle not worth the effort. Just a thought.

    I loved reading your students’ often poignant resonances with what they read. Thank you for showing them the power of reading.

    Both my parents were readers, and I grew up surrounded, not by great literature, but at least by books and magazines — Readers Digest condensed books, Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh mysteries, Life, Look, Readers Digest, Highlights for Children, Redbook, Field and Stream, Fur Fish and Game, The Farmer, to name just a few. I read them all, even that last one. Now I happily read 50+ books a year, some of them classics. One of my boys is an even more avid reader than I am, the other is a casual reader; he has found that he prefers reading on an electronic device rather than a physical book. That’s fine. The medium is only a tiny part of the message.

  13. actonbell says:

    Thank you for sharing those wonderful responses to your final–I got misty, too. And I know a few 20-somethings that read exactly nothing. It’s hard to be young, and being young without the lovely escape of a good novel is unfathomable.

  14. actonbell says:

    By the way, I just read a novel called “Shadow Baby,” by Alison McGhee, about an engaging eleven-year-old girl who is a true Word Person and born to be a writer. Both thumbs and my big toes UP!

  15. Jenny Woolf says:

    What great writing from those two students. ANd your obvious emotion about reading will surely have stuck with some of the students, even with the one trying to upset you. Maybe you’ll find him with his head stuck in a book one day. Even if you don’t, that kind of effort from a teacher sticks in the mind for years or life. So you don’t need to feel bad.

  16. sweffling says:

    Well Done!! Those students will always have some succour in their lives now, because of your passion and persistence. I think that opening someone’s eyes to another part of themselves is quite addictive:)

  17. Maria says:

    My first love (and I cannot believe that we lasted for SEVEN years) was not a reader. At all. We found out late in the relationship that she was dyslexic, so that was why. But, I used to read books to her in the evenings because I couldn’t bear to think of her not reading all those books. Bing is not a fiction reader and it amazes me that she and I can live peacefully together. She likes to read how-to manuals, books about how to persuade others or deal with difficult co-workers (and I sort of wonder if there isn’t a book on how to deal with difficult wives somewhere in her closet), but she dislikes fiction. This almost kills me. She has no idea what an incredible book “Ellen Foster” is. Or how any sonnet by Shakespeare is almost unbearably beautiful if it is read aloud. That is the beauty of Shakespeare, it is meant to be said OUT LOUD. She shrugs. I am delighted that Liv is a reader, but she isn’t the rabid one that I was when I was her age and am to this day. I don’t get people who don’t read. I carry a book with me everywhere that I go. Everywhere.

  18. Those two must give you hope. But the non-reading guy? I think, “And. you. don’t. talk. to. your. English. teacher. like. that, you ignorant buffoon who doesn’t belong in college,” would have been the appropriate answer.

  19. christopher says:

    So interesting that I visited your page tonight.

    I just posted about reading as well. Truthfully though I am not an avid reader and so perhaps, in that regard, I ironically received the English Literature award graduating High School.

    I suppose I compensate by being blessed with good reading skills, good writing skills and insight.

    Relating to another persons strife is powerful especially if the character is triumphant…so glad for the two students.

    The abrasive student is lost in other ways…changes on a first things first order seems necessary…hopefully he finds his way.

    I like the sharing of the books and conversations too…but sometimes I limit my expectations for ensuing closeness…as our viewpoints come from all different perspectives.

    Thanks and enjoy your reading.

  20. Daft young man ,,, such an attention seeker ! He will eventually turn up for job interviews wearing a tee-shirt with a rude message on it .
    I can’t imagine not reading … whatever would I do instead ?

  21. ilyanna says:

    am teary eyed and feeling a huge burst of love for you as a teacher. thank you.

  22. pia says:

    Wow. Amazing. I can’t imagine a life without reading. I think parents who don’t read to their children should be jailed–not really but something. I’m not a better person because I read so much. I throw out books. A friend told me that’s a sin. But I kept trying to give him books I knew he would like and he had no time. Some of my best memories are of stolen weekends spent reading

  23. Robin says:

    Yay. For. Teachers. You make a difference in the world and I, for one, am glad to know you are in it doing your thing. Because you do it so awfully well. I never realized how influential most of my teachers were at the time. But I remember them all. Every last one.

  24. Bone says:

    The scar passage is phenomenal.

    I must confess I didn’t much like to read in my high school/college days. Thankfully, I did recover from that. Well, obviously I did, else I wouldn’t be here, right? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *