We should all be readers. Not just capable of reading, but actually choosing to read, looking for something to read. Reading is not just a vocation or a hobby. Reading is not just a personal preference for some personalities. Being a reader means you have respect for yourself and for others. Being a reader means you want to be more than who you were yesterday. Being a reader means are not willing to let others decide what kind of person you should be. Being a reader means you realize your responsibility as a member of a free society. Being a reader means you care enough about others to make this world a better place. Being a reader means you never want to stop learning, stop growing, stop being. Being a reader means you like to laugh or wonder or be amazed.
If you say to yourself, I just don’t like to read, you have had a misstep along the way, a bad experience interfering with your own personal choice to determine your own life. Not reading means you are letting others determine what is best for you, completely relying on other people to guide your understanding of the world.
Having said all that, rather boldly, I must admit, please note that I did not say what exactly you should be reading or how often. In fact, I adamantly believe you should be on the hunt for what you want to read. Reading only because you feel obliged will discourage your intentions to become a reader.
Now, as I am writing this I am completely aware that if you are not reader you are probably not reading this. This means you are probably already a reader and this entire time you’ve read this you have been thinking about that person in your life who says they are not a reader. Perhaps you are thinking you will share this with them. I have to say that this rant will not make them a reader, and so it should not. We can only become readers when we are enticed by the beauty of reading.
I say all this to say that as teachers our job is never to think it is okay when students say they do not like to read, We cannot think it is okay for some of our student not to be readers. We have to look closely at why they are not readers. We have to give them the opportunity to discover what they can and want to read. We have to give them space to not have to read what we want them to read the way we want them to read. We have to make a great variety of reading materials available to them often and let them wander through them and ponder what they like. We have to validate whatever they choose. We must resist being critical of any kind of book they might like or we risk them becoming people who grow up saying they do not like to read. We have to let go and let them just read. Then they will become their own kind of reader. Then they will become readers.