Letter from the editor: All because of a book

  • 07/28/2021, 02:56 PM (update 08/24/2021, 09:48 AM)
  • CN
Letter from the editor: All because of a book
It’s hard to believe it, but, by the time you read this letter from the editor, we will only have a few weeks left of summer. With that in mind, summer reading should have already started for many students. Have you picked out your summer reading yet? 

By Courtney Warren

This year, I did something a little different and gave my students a reading survey. I asked questions about what they liked to read and what they like to watch on Netflix. I asked what made reading books interesting for them and what made a book super boring. 

But I also asked about whether or not they see their parents or guardians reading for pleasure. 

Now, I specified that reading can be anything from the newspaper (hint, hint!) to a novel and everything in between. 

 

 

We have a saying in our house:”Have you fed your brain today?” What that means is, before you pick up the tablet to watch Youtube Kids, have you done something creative? Have you gone outside? Have you read a story? 

I know it’s difficult to read a book you’re not interested in, and even more difficult to read a book that someone is forcing you to read. This year, though, I was excited to create a list of books rather than just one option. 

Something I’ve learned through my educational experience is that adults ruin everything. I said it, and I’m not taking it back. We ruin things. We give children what we want them to have and what we think they should read, rather than stoking the flame inside of them and giving them what they want. 

Now, I can already see your brow furrowing. I’m not saying we should give children anything they want, no questions asked. What I am saying is, we should listen to what they're interested in and help them take it a step further. 

I always tell my students, “Just because I like it, doesn’t mean you have to like it, too.” 

I had one student last year who loved nonfiction. It’s not my jam. But, when it came time to create a reading list, I tried to find a nonfiction option for him to make sure he stayed engaged. 

When I was around nine years old, the Harry Potter series was released, and it was all the rage. However, growing up in a small town in Georgia, I was seeing a lot of parents, pastors, and community members calling for the book to be burned. They were holding meetings where they collected all of the Harry Potter books in the community and burned them or shredded them, because the subject of witchcraft was mentioned (I’m guessing they never read Shakespeare, Canterbury Tales, or King Arthur either…). 

Anyway, Young Courtney was intrigued. What was this book? And why was it so long? And wow, look at how many AR points that baby is worth! I mentioned it to my dad, and he’d already heard about the book from his friends at the hospital. I told him I wanted to read it, and, knowing of the controversy surrounding the book, he said that was fine - but he was going to read it with me, so we could talk about it. 

Friends, this is why my dad is now my best friend. Because of a book and a kid with a lightning bolt scar. We read the book together. Then we read the next. And the next. We went to the midnight releases, the movie premieres, and listened to the audio versions narrated by Jim Dale. We made memories together because of this story. I wanted to become a writer. I wanted to become a teacher. 

All because of a book. 

I was a junior in college when the very last movie premiered. At the closing credits, I remember standing in the Madison theater crying my heart out as I called my dad. 

“Dad!” I cried, “It’s over. It’s all done.”

“Oh, I know, but what a wonderful adventure we had,” he replied. 

All because of a book. 

When my husband met me in college and learned of my Harry Potter love, he read the entire series. If you know him and knew him back then, you know he wasn’t exactly an avid reader. He read them so he’d have a reason to talk to me. That was thirteen years ago this October. 

All because of a book. 

When I went through one of the most difficult seasons of my life, I escaped by running back to Hogwarts and going on those same adventures with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We competed in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, we defeated Voldemort, and we encouraged everyone to stand up for what is right. I found comfort through heartache. 

All because of a book. 

So, am I saying you have to love Harry Potter? No, even though I’d love for you to give it a chance. 

What I am saying is: choose those summer reading books with care. Explore your options. Find a story that gets you excited and makes you want to talk about it. Don’t turn your nose up at a story your child might seem interested in because it’s not what you “think” they need to be reading. Dad had no idea that he’d change his child’s life simply by agreeing to read a book. You never know what they might discover - and who they might become - all because of a book. 

 

CN

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