Do You Remember Your 1st Time?

by Marilynn Halas on March 14th, 2016
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Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Remember how you would steal away quiet moments together and how hard it was to say goodnight? Maybe you met at school or in a coffee shop? There was simply nothing better than being together and the rest of the world would simply fade away as long as you held onto each other, running your fingers through the soft pages and looking longingly at the beautiful illustrations…

Wait. Did you think I was talking about your first boyfriend or girlfriend? Oh no, no, no, my friend. I don’t mean the angst of deciding what to wear or when to call. I’m talking about the sweet sadness of turning the last page on a beautiful world you have come to wish was real. I’m talking about time travel and death defying leaps of faith. I’m talking about visiting new worlds, countries, characters and emotions so real you had to put the book down for a moment to catch your breath. Do you remember?

For me it was Narnia and a brave little mouse named Reepicheep.
“Sire, my life is ever at your command, but my honor is my own.”

Then it was S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, in fact, Pony Boy still just about breaks my heart. Jane Austin arrived just in time for my first real crush and Jane and dear Mr. Darcy set the bar high for romance and coming of age. Like a favorite song these stories are like time machines for me. With only a moment’s notice they bring me back to a time in my life that I never want to lose and sharing them again with my children makes them new all over again.

Reading great stories continues to be time well spent but for many of our kids, the fun of epic stories is choked out by book reports and cumbersome choices. Like an endless series of awkward blind dates many of our kids are relentlessly set up with books they loathe. It’s no wonder it’s hard to convince our kids that they can have more fun with a book than a video game.

Video games have an air of contraband and excitement: they might not be good for you but they will definitely be fun. If we want our kids reading it’s time to rebrand books from the dusty domain of lonely recluses and remind our kids that some stories were considered so dangerous they were actually banned.

How can we excite lifelong readers if we serve them a steady diet of literary bran? No one denies that fiber is important, but a burger every now and then is delicious. Something juicy you can really sink your teeth into. Something you will dream about tonight and talk about tomorrow.

We need to stop force-feeding bran to our kids and take them outside. Let them choose a juicy peach straight off a tree and fall in love as the sweet nectar drips from their parched lips. Let kids read beyond book reports and dystopian disasters. Let them read the scandalous Mark Twain in the original unsanitized language. Encourage epics that we can read together and simple stories of great insight. Harry Potter, The Giver, Roald Dahl anything, A Wrinkle in Time, Narnia and whatever else they might actually be enjoyable and encouraging.

I think the best way to raise lifelong readers is to rebrand books from the realm of homework to Hogwarts and from an obligation to an obsession; in other words to fall in love.

Categories: General