In 2014, Glenn Beck cited eleven reasons why reading is important. These included that reading is a fundamental function in society, a vital skill in finding a good job, and develops the mind. He stated reading helps us discover new things, develops the imagination, develops creativity, and promotes a positive self-image. Good reading skills promote good spelling and is a component of a powerful communication system and are the building blocks of life.
All of these are excellent reasons to learn to read. But he left out the most important one, in my opinion. Reading is fun!
Back in my childhood, I was raised to be a reader. My mom and various grandparents read aloud to me for hours and hours. I began to love books before I could put three words together. I’m not even sure how or when I learned to read. I know that I entered elementary school already knowing how. By third or fourth grade, I could read my brothers’ chemistry and literature books out loud to them. It was this early introduction to Shakespeare that made me love the comedies, in fact.
My teachers failed to notice my reading ability for several years, but it wasn’t really their fault. Firstly, despite what people who know me now would believe, I was an extremely shy, quiet kid. There’s no way I would speak up in class or read aloud with any confidence. As a youngster, my only goal was to get through the day unnoticed.
The second factor was the reading groups — remember those redbirds, bluebirds and blackbirds? I was solidly in the bluebird (average) groups through fifth grade. Again, not because I couldn’t read, but because I was so shy, my teachers didn’t realize just how well I did read. I managed to pass all the written tests, though, so didn’t end up in the dreaded blackbird group. I certainly wasn’t a redbird star.
The third reason was because my school used a program called SRA (no idea what that stood for). It entailed a box holding various reading selections in individual folders. These were excerpts from exciting or informative books. The student was supposed to pull a folder, read it, then take a test on it and, if passed, go on to the next folder.
Again, my personality precluded my teachers figuring out how much reading I could do. When I found a story in a folder I liked (Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume), I’d just pull it and read it over and over before taking the test. So, I passed the test, but the teacher thought it had taken me a week or two.
The fact that I got average grades in reading until middle school (when they figured out my actual reading level), didn’t change the fact that I loved reading. Still do. So, here’s my plea to all parents and grandparents out there: read to your kids. Have them read to you. You can influence them to be lifelong readers, no matter what their tests scores may show.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.