“Come, let’s read this book,” I said.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” has only seven pages, but let’s have it your way and say “seven big pages.” While half the book bears text, the other half is resplendent with graphics and illustration. Although the book has only three pages of text to offer, you squeezed crocodile tears out of your lovely eyes, assumed that “poor me” expression, and whined: “But it is such a huge book. Look at these words … Obba!!! They are so big. We never learned all this in school. The school books are so easy. Look at these pages! So big! So huge! There are so many pages!!”
In the first place, baby, I never forced those fairy tales on you. I just suggested that it will be nice if you read some fairy tales or allow me to tell you a few fairy tales. I don’t force reading material on anybody. Books should be read willingly. You accompanied me to the library one fine day. Those books fascinated you, and you didn’t think twice before taking five fairy tales in your arms.
And we had the following conversation after that.
I asked, “What do you think you are doing? Are you really going to read all those?”
“Yes,” you said, trying to see if you could fit more books in your arms.
“Listen baby,” I said. “You gotta read all that. Are you sure you are the type to sit quietly and read?”
Yes,” you said without really listening to me. I guess my words hit your ears and bounced back into the air.
“Put back four.” I commanded. “Let’s take only one and see how you read it.”
You glared at me with that stubborn look on your face and once again said that you wanted to borrow all five.
I sighed and relented, like I always do.
I knew you would fall out of love with those books the moment we reached home, and I was right. You tossed them on the table and forgot all about them. Unfortunately for you, I couldn’t forget them. I paid reading fees for each of those books and I wanted you to get all my money’s worth. That’s why I gave you my sweetest smile, grabbed your arm before you could flee into the garden, and said: “Come, let’s read this book!”
You finally settled down with a woebegone look on your face and began flipping through the pages.
“There are so many pages,” you moaned.
I simply do not know why you felt so tortured. I never asked you to read all those pages at the same time, did I? Even the biggest books are read just a word at a time.
“These words are so difficult,” you groaned.
So what? Did I say that you have to read the difficult words? The book has plenty of words you can read. You could just read them and leave the difficult ones to me.
There is no “have to” in reading. It’s as simple as that.
I also noticed that you were more interested in the illustration than in the text. Pictures are awesome, but they distract the reader, especially if the reader is a seven-year-old who loves cycling, cooking, and climbing. I therefore suggested that you spend some time just seeing the pictures. So you saw the pictures to your heart’s content and talked about them for a long time.
And then I said those dreaded words again, “Let’s read the book.”
My dear little friend, you should read for pleasure. Nobody should force you to read a book. You selected those books because you love reading. You just get frustrated with the “big” words that come your way. You want it all to come easily. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Reading takes practice. You ought to read and read and read till those “big” words become your best friends.
You also don’t like to read for a long time. Don’t! You should never force yourself to read. As I said before, reading should be a pleasure. When you have had enough of a book, set it aside and return to it later. Books are better than your best friends. They do not mind if you leave them without notice and return to them only when you want to.
You also don’t have to read continuously without lifting your head from the book. Remember that you are reading, not running a race. You are communicating with the writer, a person who is a total stranger to you. You are diving into the writer’s mind, exploring his/her world and the characters he/she has created.
You don’t even have to read fast because, as said above, you are reading, not running a race.
Whenever you are reading, allow yourself to do the following.
- Let the ideas, opinions, and memories flash into your mind as you read. If you wish, you can even write them down before you get back to reading.
- Pause as many times as you like to just savor the words you have just read.
- Laugh at/with the writer and his/her creation.
- Sympathize with the characters and put yourself in their shoes. If you find any character in trouble, feel for him/her.
- Make friends with those “big” words.
- Take some time to see the characters in your mind.
- Get amused whenever you spot similarities between the characters and the people in your life.
- Reflect and ponder on the words you’ve just read.
- Predict the character’s next move.
- Ask yourself if all this can happen in real life. For example, can a mirror speak?
- Criticize the writer and his/her characters. Announce that you can write a better story and start writing one. By the way, you are good at telling stories. J
- Praise the writer and say that this is the best story you have ever read.
In brief, enjoy your reading.