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Reading and Other On-again-Off-again Relationships

Today is February 28th, the very last day of “I Love to Read” month.  Because I teach middle school often “I Love to Read” month is a desperate attempt for teachers to use their verbal pompoms to get students to read. But when I step out from behind that lens I see what reading has been to me, why it’s important to acknowledge the stages of relationship with reading and that there is a time when you can be estranged.

I remember a time when I was absolutely ecstatic to read.  I would beg my parents to stop at the library after dinner and they would wait impatiently as I would run to the aisle where I thought maybe that someone had returned a book for which I was waiting.

And then high school, university, grad school, full time teaching cycled through and suddenly reading was work.  It became a part of my daily practice-no longer something I ran home and waited all day to do.

Maybe this is why on summer breaks and week-long breaks from school I devour books.  Reading and I are on-again off again.

Life often pushes in between relationships and holds them apart like Samson and the pillars.  It strains to separate.  Sometimes life makes it difficult to escape into a book.

But there are moments, glimpses, where we feel affirmed, understood, and not alone in our circumstances because an author has completely captured a circumstance or situation in our life we were unable to express. They do the work for us. Somehow they walk in our footsteps, feel what we feel, and are our voice when we are voiceless.

Those are the moments that make me love reading.  Not because I want to run and quickly read the New York Time’s best seller list or participate in a book club where we discuss terrible, tragedy-ridden, “important” books and check off a must -read list of canon literature.  It’s because a book has made me feel whole.

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