I was reading before I went to kindergarten. I was reading before I could talk. My sister and brother followed right behind me in having a higher reading level than any of our peers. In fourth grade, I read Fox’s Book of Martyrs simply because a teacher said only high schoolers should be able to read and comprehend it – and even then likely just seniors if that. I not only read it, I complete understood it and proved so by having that teacher quiz me on the material. My advanced reading level is still a point of pride as you may have noticed. I so dearly love my books. I enjoy my Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook as well, but nothing replaces that feel of a book in your hands, the turning of pages, the smell of a bookstore.
It drives me absolutely crazy when I hear someone talking about a TV show or a movie based (allegedly) on a book or series and then try to correct the person who has actually done the reading. “No, this is how it really happens because it’s what happened on last night’s episode.” Well….in the book written 50+ years ago, this is how the creator of the story had it happen. “You should really read the books; you would definitely appreciate the imagery if you think the show is good!” “I’m not much of a reader; I just wait for the movies to come out.”
Do these people know what they are missing?! Obviously not! This is why our culture and education is going downhill so incredibly fast! Very few appreciate the written word! Not only that, but look at the quality of what is passing as “literature.” Twilight. The Hunger Games. Fifty Shades of Grey.
I have not been able to read any of those books. (Truthfully, I did not even bother trying to read the Hunger Games since I know the Japanese version and dislike band-wagons.) I did not even make it through the first chapter of Twilight and stopped at chapter three in Fifty Shades. The quality of the writing was horrendous! I immediately went for my copy of Homer’s Iliad to try to nullify the damage I had just done to my poor brain.
Compare Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter to Twilight. Compare Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew to Fifty Shades of Grey. Can one truly say they are of the same level of quality? They have the same thought-provoking themes? The words used alone are leagues apart.
I led a protest at my old high school when I heard a new teacher had chosen to require high school students to read the Hunger Games instead of the Scarlet Letter. She also chose to have them read only Romeo & Juliet rather than the previous requirements of Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice as well. Thankfully, the school board agreed with me and those true examples of classic literature and drama were restored to the curriculum.
I was the student who curled up in the playground fort or on the gym stairs during recess with my books. I had my books at lunch. I read in the car. Punishment for me was having my reading light taken away from me by my parents. I was also the high school varsity starting athlete. It is possible to enjoy worth-while reading as well as remain active. This is a skill and a love which needs to be reintroduced in schools at an early age and reinforced throughout the years.