Monday, July 16, 2012

read aloud

i will never complain about reading for grad school ever again.

okay, that's possibly, maybe, probably a lie. but my respect for the ability to read has been greatly increased since i've had an ongoing stint teaching kids how to read this summer. reading is HARD. for real, y'all. i'm amazed that i ever learned and internalized all the bajallion rules (plus all their exceptions) and skills it takes to read a seemingly simple, easy sentence. i've always loved reading since i was a little girl--a fun afternoon after school for me was often as follows: grab all my favorite books, stack them in a pile next to my beanbag, and re-read all my favorites. oh, and then reenact and embellish their stories with my stuffed animals. books literally changed my life. but tragically, this was and is not a reality for many.

check out some of these statistics:
44 million adults can't read well enough to read a simple story to a child.
Nearly half of American adults are functionally illiterate, meaning they can't carry out seemingly simple tasks such as reading drug labels or writing essays for jobs.
60% of prison inmates in America are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.

i won't go into the many, many different factors and issues that go along with these statistics right now, but the point is that they make me sad. sad, yes, because millions of people don't have access to better jobs and pay and opportunities, but also that they miss out on the learning, challenges, and imagination that reading offers. they lose such opportunities to explore a different place and time, interact with people similar to and unlike them, experience things they'd never otherwise get to experience, to dream of new possibilities and discover a new worldview all through the magic of words and storytelling.

my favorite time of day at summer camp is always getting to read aloud to my tutoring kids. if i could get paid to be a professional children's book reader, i would do it in a heartbeat. and honestly, i won't mind if my kids don't remember a single reading "rule" or vocab word from this summer. i just pray i can instill a little, tiny seed of the joy of discovering new knowledge and possibilities through reading. books truly can change you and the world.