Nothing overly complicated to see here, folks. It’s just that I love reading for the sake of reading and many times, we talk about the things we enjoy most. Oh, I know, it’s a walking cliche for a wannabe rockstar school librarian to love reading, right? But here’s the thing — it shouldn’t be. You know why? Because we’re models for the students we encounter, the children we see on a regular basis, the infant who simply loves the sound of voice.
Logan, Medford, & Hughes have recently researched the effect of intrinsic motivation on readers of all levels. They found (unsurprisingly) that “academic success for children is usually founded on their ability to read proficiently, as most subjects across the school curriculum rely, to varying extents, on reading skill.” (2011, p.124) The American Association of School Librarians’ Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007) further stresses, “The degree to which students can read and understand text in all formats (e.g., picture, video, print) and all contexts is a key indicator of success in school and in life.”*
And that’s the thing — reading isn’t just for school. I read constantly for my job – task lists from my supervisor, documentation on how to order services at a conference (the comprehension level required for such documents feel astronomical at times), reading between the lines of an email to find what someone’s really asking. And that’s a life skill. A necessary one. Some jobs may seem to require less reading, and that’s fine: I know quite a few people who, I’m certain, were meant to work with their hands. (Farmers, among others, you rock). But I dare you to make it through a day – no, that’s ridiculous – I dare you to make it through five minutes without reading something. (Staring at the ceiling does not count, but that’s currently the only thing I can come up with that might work).
None of this is mind blowing, is it? I didn’t think so. But it was last night, when I wrapped up several hours of working on various graduate school assignments, and eagerly picked up the book I just started** as a form of mental relaxation and entertainment, that I realized for the gazillionth*** time just how fortunate I am. I grew up in a family that found value in reading for both work and for pleasure; my mother willingly took me the public library about once a week so I always had fresh reading material; I had teachers that encouraged using free time to read; I undertook an undergraduate degree that allowed me to research fascinating topics****. And now, I want my actions to further encourage young people to develop that intrinsic love of learning, of the written word, of the joys hidden within – and that’s why I do this. That is why I do all this. And it’s a good reminder.
* – taken from a recent collaborative assignment, focused on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
** – “The Wild Queen: The days and nights of Mary, Queen of Scots” – Carolyn Meyer. (Fictionalized history).
*** -Not a real number.
**** – My senior history thesis was on the presidency of Warren G. Harding, last president to come from the Great State of Ohio. By the time it was done, I referred to him as Warren G.
***** – Note this was written at an incredibly early time of the morning, before I’d consumed my usual coffee intake. Excuse the rambling.