This week is Family Literacy Week. In honour of Family Literacy Week and just before everyone is distracted by the Board’s big decisions tomorrow, I thought it was an appropriate time to make a confession.
I went through a phase in my life when I hated reading. There, I said it.
It wasn’t that I actually hated reading. The truth was I hated reading some of the books I was being assigned in my literature classes at university. I sometimes tell people that I may be the only English major in history who hated reading. What I didn’t like very much was that someone else was telling me what to read, and I didn’t fully appreciate their choices.
It wasn’t always this way. The full-length chapter books I first remember reading as a youngster were all related to sports. When given time during a class visit to the library, I always headed first to the sports section. Athlete biographies and the recounting of memorable sporting moments were highlights.
As an adolescent, I read through the entire “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” series. These three boys my age, with a really cool office under a scrap heap in a junkyard, solved mysteries and then recounted their tale to Alfred Hitchcock in every book’s final chapter. What wasn’t to like?
Through my high school years, magazines and newspapers were the standard fare. The odd novel passed through my hands, but it wasn’t a regular occurrence.
Along came the university period. Of course, I didn’t really hate reading. I hated certain kinds of reading. I guarantee you I still read the newspaper and Sports Illustrated. It was the pre-internet era, and information wasn’t just a click away. Sometimes, one even had to wait an hour or two to find out what was happening in the world. I read for information and entertainment but didn’t think much about enriching my life through literature.
Today, I spend much of my day reading and writing. I use e-mail as a main source of communication. I read news and research articles, many directly from the internet. I still occasionally read actual newspapers, not just the online versions. I read and write reports as part of my job. In my leisure time, I read novels, biographies and yes, The Hockey News. It’s a luxury to be able to choose what I read.
Because it is Family Literacy Week and because we don’t do it enough, I want to thank all of our educators who promote reading, writing, and speaking every day in our schools. You are enhancing the life chances of all students who enter your class.
I want to also recognize the work of Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy. CCPL promotes literacy through awareness and understanding by initiating and supporting learning opportunities. By giving free books to babies and their parents, tutoring adults who would like to improve their reading abilities, and offering courses in financial literacy, CCPL continues to provide opportunities for people to feel more comfortable in a world where we often make the incorrect assumption that everyone can read and write.
To celebrate Family Literacy Week, read something you really want to this week.