As I was leaving school today, the sky was getting dark and the winds were blowing hard. I headed down the roads, and came to a stop at a stoplight. I noticed something about the truck up ahead- it seemed like it was a maintenance vehicle, something a plumber or electrician might drive while on duty. It wasn’t the truck that caught my attention- it was what was etched in the metal grates on the back:
I almost thought to quickly take a picture before the light changed, but I remembered the new Illinois law about cell phones and vehicles, so I decided against it. But I got to thinking- what kind of job does this man do? I kind of wanted to follow him to find out more- where is he going? What kind of job does this guy have? I had a desire to know more.
I came home and researched it, and I guess READING is a truck manufacturer of some sort. Why they call themselves READING remains a mystery. A pretty good name if you ask me- I kind of want to drive one of their trucks.
But, my desire to follow him got me thinking about what our lives are like as readers and what we want our students lives as readers to be- a desire to always want to go where he/she is going.
When I hop on Twitter and I read about someone’s latest adventure in a book, I immediately think “I want to go there too.” And so I get my hands on a book.
When I read a book preview and get to think about what the possibilities are for taking a ride in someone else’s life for a while, I want to go where the characters are going.
Isn’t that why we read fiction? Because we want to go where someone else has dared to dream about or has been fortunate or unfortunate enough to experience?
We get to put on masks, dive into a story, see the worlds of others in ways we couldn’t experience in real life. It’s a way to get away from whatever might be going on in our real lives and a chance to experience life from another point of view.
Sometimes we want to go where someone else is going because we want to know we’re not alone. Sometimes we want to go to have fun. Sometimes we want to go to learn something new.
We all have our reasons for wanting to plunge headfirst into the world of a book. Whatever they may be, it’s our right as a reader.
And it’s our goal as educators to help students understand this special bond they can develop with reading. We want them to see that it’s possible to leave their own world. That readers read to go where someone else is going- not because a teacher asked them to, assigned them to, or because they had to record minutes on a log.
Every reading experience we share with students invites them to go where we have gone and where our favorite characters have gone. As long as the reader can open the book and make meaning of the words, or listen to someone else tell the story, there are no barriers to stop them from going down those roads.