I can’t remember exactly when I started reading books. When staying up to finish just “one more chapter” became normality. When finding the next book in a series was the absolute priority above anything else (this was before Amazon ruled the world and before I even had a visa card to order online).
When I look a my children today, I ask myself more and more when that started and whether the fact that mine aren’t exactly smitten with reading is a bad sign. Whether it means that they’ll not ever get interested in reading and whether I’m going to have to force them every single time to finish that mandatory text they have to go through for school.
People might think I’m completely nuts for stressing about futile things like this, but honestly, it really freaks me out. Because the more I look back onto my own schooling, on how I learnt the languages I speak, read and write today, and where I actually got the vocabulary from that is so worthy now that I’m starting to write on my own, I realize it came from the books I read. At quite a young age, when my friends were juggling with saying their first phrases in English, I was reading everything I could find at home that John Grisham had ever written. “The Client” was one of my favorites, and after that, I couldn’t stop.
I didn’t get the vocabulary from the endless tests at school. All of the quirky wordings, phrases, and feeling for the story, I got it from reading. They are imprinted in my mind, and without being completely sure to give the exact meaning, I know just what it feels like using them and know exactly what they represent.
And that’s why it means so much to me that my children will get that same virus. That they’ll stay up at night, wanting to finish that one last chapter. That they’ll discover whole new worlds through magnificent stories, that allow them to daydream as much as they want and imagine themselves in all great situations and adventures that authors have built up for them.
I still catch myself today impatient to get home and to bed to go on with that novel I’m reading at that moment, because I really really need to know who the villain is and how he’s going to get caught. Right now, I’m reading “You are dead” by Peter James, and you can imagine that getting the time to read those last chapters is all that matters.
One evening last week, I caught my daughter reading still past 10 in the evening and I had to ask her to take a break and go to sleep. I was trying to be dead serious, but honestly? I was jubilating inside myself. Making a double flip and salto all at the same time! It was like the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I think we might actually have reached that point where she reads in the evening without me having to force her to do “just one chapter, pretty pretty please!”
Finding books that fit her taste has turned out to be the most difficult task. Everything seems to be so stereotyped today, and if you try to find a book that isn’t pink and doesn’t feature horses, unicorns or two super duper girly friends is an impossible task to complete. You’ll find me roaming through bookstores frustrated at that line of backs of books that is completely – pink and pastel-toned, with glitter if possible.
But every once in a while I will find something atypical, and I’ll grab it straight away. Something that I know will intrigue her or manage to draw her into a mysterious land of dreams and beautiful stories and keep her reading in secret at night.
And every time that happens, I feel like making a home run. It’s a complete feeling of victory. Because no matter how she does at school, no matter that her writing is still terrible regardless of how hard she tries, I persist in believing that reading is the one thing that is going to make all the difference. The one trick that’ll help her writing correctly without getting all panicky and block her brain as soon as she has to do any grammar exercises that she just doesn’t get. The one habit that will make her expand her imagination, her knowledge and build her independence and ability to form her own thoughts and beliefs.
Reading is going to be the weapon to confront ignorance, stupidity and limited minds and support her strong will that she can change the world and make it a better place.