Immediately after selling my textbooks back on Thursday I ran over to the bookstore to buy books to read over break. Selling books back only to use the money to buy more books; it’s the life of an English major. I ended up buying Master and Margarita from Old Fire House Books first. I adore this little book shop! Buying from a local store is always great and the older gentleman who works there is so sweet! If you haven’t stopped by there, you really should try to before going home for break! Unfortunately, that was the only book on my list that they had at the time. So then I had to get on College and fight the incessant traffic to reach Barnes and Noble. There I picked up Cat’s Cradle. Over break I hope to finish these and maybe make a dent in Gravity’s Rainbow, which I have been slowly, but surely muddling through since June…
Point is, I can’t wait for break because I can’t wait to finally get some quality reading time! Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I haven’t done any reading this semester. What I’ve been reading just isn’t literature I would choose to read in my own time. I really doubt I would pick up Mrs. Dalloway of Lives on the Boundary to read on my own accord. When you are forced to read things, that requirement automatically instills a little bit of resentment towards the piece of text. But choosing a book that you want to read! About something you are interested in! It’s all just so exciting right now.
I think that as teachers we need to remember this joy when we are teaching literature. While talking about books with a friend at dinner tonight, he pointed out that he didn’t really read any of the assigned books in high school. And looking back on it, I didn’t really either. Why do kids choose not to read? Easy: because the book was assigned. When you force someone to do something, it takes all the enjoyment out of the task. If we presented opportunities for choosing from selected literature in book groups or independent studies, students will feel like they have a say in what they are reading and will be able to choose something that they are actually interested in. Students may not like every book in the cannon, but there is probably a book about something they are interested in there. When I begin teaching, I hope to compile a list of books, sorted by topic, to give to kids before break to encourage them to do some reading for fun.
Realistically, I know that many of them won’t read. But there has to be one or two kids like me out there. Kids who count down the days till break as days till they can start reading something for fun.
I would love to hear what other people plan on reading over break!