One day, when I was driving you to school, we talked about reading.
“You need to improve your reading,” I said.
You looked bored.
“You see, reading is important,” I continued. “You cannot make me do your reading for you anymore. You need to read on your own. It’s important.”
You kept quiet.
“I want you to read something every day,” I went on, refusing to let your silence discourage me.
You still did not respond.
“Are you listening?” I demanded to know.
“Yes,” you said, keeping it short and simple.
“No, you are not!” I said sharply.
“Yes, I am,” you retorted.
“Indeed? What did I tell you? I asked.
“You want me to improve my reading and to read something every day. You said that I cannot make you do my reading for me,” you said.
“Why did you pretend not to listen?” I asked.
“But I did listen,” you said, your voice beginning to rise. I sighed and let the matter go.
But hey, reading can be dangerous!!!
As a person who once used to read, or rather devour, up to seven books per day, I understand the dangers of reading too well.
You see, if you do not read the right way, you are asking for trouble.
Danger #1: Straining Your Eyes
You should hold the book at a distance of at least one foot from your eyes when you are reading. You also need to keep your back straight.
But people tend to forget these simple rules when they read for long hours. The printed words absorb them so much that they move their heads closer and closer to the page till their noses are literally buried in the book.
People who read for long hours don’t even care for their posture. When I was younger, I was guilty of curling up in bed with my books. When I was done with the book, I had an eye strain, my vision was blurred, and I wondered why my muscles ached when all I had done was “curl up with my book.”
Danger #2: Identifying with the Characters
You lose track of real life and identify with the characters in the book. As a result, you can no longer see life as it is. You see it as your favorite characters or author sees it. You start thinking, acting, and behaving like your favorite character and do not even realize that people around you find you odd. You drift farther and farther away from people in real life—the very people who actually play a very important role in your life.
Danger #3: Getting Addicted
Yes, it is possible to get addicted to reading. I remember that I did not know what to do with myself if I had no book to read. I used to burst into tears in sheer frustration and feel better only when I found another book.
Danger #4: Accepting Every Thought and Idea in the Book
This is surely the biggest danger of reading. Writers are not extraordinary people. They are just ordinary people blessed with an extraordinary ability—the ability to convert their thoughts and ideas into text. Their thoughts and ideas could be flawed. If you read naively and make a writer’s opinions your own and accept whatever he/she writes in his/her book or poem or article, you are asking for trouble.
When you read, you must think, analyze, and question. Always discuss the books, poems, and articles you read with your mother or a friend you trust or a teacher you respect. Always question the printed word as much as you question the spoken word.
Danger #5: Refusing to Get Exercise
If you read excessively, you will just not get the exercise your body badly needs. Never make books your best friends. Do things that will make you sweat and laugh. Instead of reading about that beautiful butterfly, search for it in the park. Instead of reading about the beauty of friendship, make a few new friends. I guess you get it. Put your book aside and get a life!!
The big disclaimer!!!
Now I never said that you should not read, did I? Of course, reading has its benefits. It just has to be done the right way, otherwise it could get dangerous.
- Read by all means, but only to improve your grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills.
- Read to find out the truth, but not before you have understood the difference between truth and falsehood.
- Read to create your own opinion, not to make someone else’s opinion your own.
- Read to satisfy your curiosity, not to fill a void in your life.
- Read, read, and read because reading is fun and informative.
- If your reading has improved your ability to think, analyze, and question, you are reading the right way.
- Above all, remember that you must spend an hour in the open air for every hour of reading you do.
You are a clever little boy who already thinks, analyzes, and questions a lot. I am sure that you will be the great reader I want you to be.