I remember when I was younger, every summer weekday started with breakfast, chores, and reading. I hated reading. It was an almost daily struggle with my mom. I laugh when I think about it now, because I never won that struggle . . .and I knew at the time I would never win that struggle, but that’s how much I haaaaated reading! I bargained, I begged, I stomped my feet and slammed doors. I spent many mornings stuffed in a chair for that half hour just counting to 150 and then turning the pages, over and over and over again, thinking I had my mom fooled that I was really reading the book! No wonder math was my talent and reading was definitely not!
For many, many years, I have tutored young people in a variety of subjects, with most of my focus being in math and reading. At some point, students have almost always asked me, “why do we need to know this?” Usually that question refers to a math situation and I explain that even if they never use a specific lesson again in their lives, it is all about the process and the ability to problem solve. I don’t think I have ever gotten that question when it comes to reading.
Students seem to intuitively know that reading is a skill they absolutely need in this world. And by reading, I don’t mean just recognizing words, I mean every aspect of literacy. The ability to understand others and their thoughts and messages. The ability to share your thoughts and messages effectively. I suppose there are ways to avoid reading a menu when you go out to eat or things you can do to get around comprehending a document placed in front of you that needs to be signed. I guess it’s not the end of the world if you can’t read a love letter from your spouse and it probably is possible to find your way through a large building without having to read the signs that are placed to direct you, but it sure is a gift to be able to do all those things and countless other activities all day, everyday, without having to rely on others to help me do them.
So today, I’m not sure if I am more thankful for a nagging mother or my ability to read and write, but I know I am forever and profoundly grateful for the ability to communicate and understand the written word.