Truth is a unique thing. It is a statement of what is so. Not what might be or could be. It’s what IS. When encountering the idea of truth, I typically consider phrases like “eternal truth” and events like legal testimony and of course the (ahem) truth declarations we associate with politicians. We all operate our lives around things we believe to be true and NOT to be true.
Literacy hasn’t ever occurred to me as having anything to do with truth. However, today I was reading an article about the benefits of reading to kids (how unusual, right?). At some point I realized that reading aloud with kids is where the seeds are planted for truths that all children need to learn about books and reading and literacy to become avid readers.
Consider, if you will, the difference between what kids who don’t read and those who do read know to be true about reading, keeping in mind, of course, that the reasons some children DO read and others DO NOT is rarely about whether they can read. It’s typically about what they have been allowed to read. Even emergent readers or strugglers, when taught and allowed to freely select books, can BE avid readers of books well-suited for their current talents. The truths that they know about reading will then be quite similar to the truths of accomplished readers under similar circumstances of self-selection and free time for opening a good book. If they find themselves with an interesting and manageable text in their hands and are given the gift of time for enjoying it, reading is just plain right and true.
All of us avid readers know there’s sheer joy in curling up with a good book and losing ourselves in its captivating tale or sitting down with a volume of mind-blowing information on a favorite topic. Now, that’s totally true.
We know that it’s a crushing blow to discover the loss of a book with which we’re not quite through or abruptly coming to the end of a book that has totally captivated us. It’s a totally predictable response…feels like dropping an ice cream cone, top down. “Aw, man!” If you are a reader, you know that’s true.
We deeply feel a sad disappointment when discovering that we’ve read all of the books by a favorite author and there’s not another due out any time soon. That’s achingly true. “Dang!”
It makes our day to find another excellent book in a beloved series, a new gem about a favorite subject or hobby, or an early treasure from a newly discovered writer. Now that’s undeniably true!
If we decide to, we can teach every kid all of these wonderful truths, but to do so, we must not restrict them from freely choosing their own books or unnecessarily limit their free time for reading. It will take letting go of some cherished or mandated practices to make room for joyful reading, but if we begin today, committed to teach every child what avid readers know to be true, they can all grow up to be avid readers.
We can do it!