“We Shouldn’t Teach Great Books; We Should Teach A Love Of Reading.”

B.F. Skinner said that. I agree.

I’ve thought of another thing that makes me love working at a book store. The kids.

Now, I don’t really like little children. They’re loud and they knock stuff over and most of them are absolute brats. I like the quiet ones. The ones that think carefully before they say something, the ones that surprise me because I don’t expect something that little to be that smart. And I absolutely love the ones that read.

We don’t get a lot of children in the store. But when we do, they’re my favorite customers. They talk to me about the most recent Roald Dahls they’ve read and ask for new ones. We have long conversations about why The Famous Five are so much more amazing than The Secret Seven. I’ve had a kid tell me how she liked the Grimm Brothers’ versions better than the Disney versions. I haven’t even read the Grimm versions! Another one scolded me for not reading any of the Narnias (I know, I know). Harry Potter, Mark Twain, Peter Pan, Jacqueline Wilson, Louis Sachar – the list goes on.

All the while, their parents watch. Swelling with pride.

I remember how I started reading. Every night, mum would produce a new Noddy and read it to me. In time, I learnt to read fluently with her, and we would both read it to my father (who would actually drop everything he was doing and listen). Pretty soon, I’d finished almost every Enid Blyton book that the library had.

My first Roald Dahl was what decided that reading was more than just a hobby for me. Matilda changed my life. The Witches reinforced the change.

I’ve heard book-muggles say things like <<insert situation where you’re getting worked up about something book-related>> “What’s the big deal? It’s only a book.” There nothing only about a book. Once you’re in love with reading, you’re in it for life. No turning back. And who do I have to thank for making sure I was a goner the minute I read that first book all by myself? Mum and Dad.

I know for a fact that my mother reads my posts from time to time. I don’t know if Dad does, but I know she’ll show this to him. Mum, Dad? Thank you. Thank you for making books a part of my life, an important one at that.

To all you parents out there – and English teachers – anyone really, who has been responsible for somebody else picking up a book – pat yourself on the back. Treat yourself to something nice. You’ve just made the world a little better for somebody to live in.

For those of you on the other side of things – if you’ve ever loved a book that was given to you/recommended to you/forced down your throat, and you’ve been wolfing down books ever since – call that person up. Send them an e-mail. Give them a hug. Say thank you. Let them know how much it means to you that they’ve let you in on the secret – as long as you have a book, you’ll be okay.

I’m aware that that’s a very naive thing to say. I know that “real life” in the big bad world is scary sometimes, and far from idyllic. But I also know that as long as I have a book with me, the right book, things will be okay. Not perfect, maybe, but okay. Somehow.

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12 responses to ““We Shouldn’t Teach Great Books; We Should Teach A Love Of Reading.””

  1. jennieflower says :

    I agree with everything you’ve said and I’ve really enjoyed your post. I’ll always read to make myself feel better or to escape reality for a while. The affect of this is so much stronger than watching a good film as well. Unfortunately my right eye has been operated on today so I can’t read a book for a while. My iPhone is helping me type this! I think I will go out of my mind with boredom.

    • Tanya M says :

      Ouch. Get someone to read to you!
      And that’s true – books are much more personal than films are, even though I love watching them. When I need comfort, I pick up a book. Simple rule of life. 🙂

  2. Danielle says :

    your title is a Great quote!

  3. astarteia says :

    “As long as you have a book, you’ll be okay” – I hadn´t really thought about it until now, but I couldn´t agree more! Turns out every time I´ve felt badly, I´ve found comfort in a book or two. Every time I´ve felt really happy I´ve shared it with one too, I guess. Weird.
    I´ve never heard of any of those children´s books! My friend – who lived in the US when she was little – lent me a couple of her books from that time, and they were lovely! I think one of them was Amelia Bedelia and another was Dr Seuss. Can´t think of a kid who wouldn´t be excited about reading after bumping into them.
    Dad read me all of the “One Story a Day” (but really, one? Who managed to read just one?) stories from Disney, for over a year. It was awesome – used to dream about Clarisbela´s canary trying to escape her well heated apartment and fly with the other birds.
    (Sorry about the long comment. Sleepy :S )

    • Tanya M says :

      It’s the same with me. I like you, woman. *respect*
      Ah, you have to read them! I still have most of my little-kid books, and keep re-visiting them from time to time. I didn’t read Dr Seuss as a kid – those were more recent. And happened out of a sense of guilt that they weren’t a part of my childhood.
      I haven’t read those! One Story A Day, you say? I’m going to see if I can track it down. 🙂

  4. mywithershins says :

    I’ve had books around me for as long as I can remember. Mom used to tell me of the time she went into my room to check on me before they went to bed and I wasn’t in bed – I was in the clothes closet, in the dark, sitting on my shoe rack ‘reading’ one of my favourite books. I was only two or three, at the time. I could read before starting kindergarten, thanks to her. She would always spend time with me, helping me get through pre-school workbooks, while my little brothers napped, even when she had migraines. I wish she was still around so I could thank her in person! 🙂

    • Tanya M says :

      Your mother sounds amazing. 🙂 I like how parents who love reading pass it on to their children. Mum used to put away whatever she was reading at the time when it came to reading to me, and I know it must’ve been awful replacing a brilliant book with Noddy or something, but she did it anyway. And it seems like a lot of parents do the same. 🙂

  5. onwindydays says :

    Absolutely awesome post. Matilda was definitely one of my favorites as a kid. My mom used to read to me all the time when I was just a little kid. I think that really developed my fondness for reading. I learned early on that a good book will take you anywhere, from the distant shores of some unknown land to the reaches of the galaxy! It definitely allows the imagination to run freely. The best feeling, although I regret it the next day :P, is picking up a book but being unable to put it down. Just wanting to get to the next chapter, then the next one after that. Then soon enough, you end up finishing the entire thing in one sitting!

    Ah well, thanks for that! And you changed up your blog a bit eh? Looks good!

    • Tanya M says :

      Matilda. One of those books where I wish every re-read was the first time.
      Haha, and I know what you mean. Staying up all night reading = zombieface the next morning. But no matter how often that happens, you can never find it in yourself to complain. 😛

      Heh heh. Yeah. Thanks. 😀

  6. 1 book 1 movie says :

    Thanks for following! I’m adding you to my blogroll, if that’s ok!

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