September 15


Piles to Go Before I Sleep by Laura M. Jimenez

I try not to compete with others. I try to remember that my reading speed is my reading speed and that it is a pretty fixed variable. And I try to remind myself that those in the children’s literature community who participate in stuff like “book-a-day” challenge do so because they want to expand their reading repertoire.


But ….


And there is always a but isn’t there? There is a “but“ whenever I start out stating that I am NOT going to compete or compare because reading isn’t about others. It is about me, and the book, and time spent.


But ….


I do compare my reading lists to others. I listen to people talk about the pile they are plowing through and I think I am just not doing enough. I’m not accomplishing enough reading. Or, more accurately, I catch myself thinking of it as my non-accomplishment in reading. Because I don’t read a book-a-day, even graphic novels take me two or three times as long as I think they should. Of course, I’m not sure where this grand reading speed comes from, but it is there. And I have to think, to put it in the front of my mind that my reading is my reading and comparisons to others in the field are not appropriate.


But ….


I read differently than most people and have developed strategies to deal with my reading-specific-cognitive-disorder, also known as a reading processing disability, AKA dyslexia. I read slowly, with almost no fluidity, I sometimes accidently skip a line or three down the page or up the page without realizing it, until the story makes no sense. I purposefully skip words, especially names that I don’t recognize or have never seen before. This kills me when reading Russian literature or high fantasy where name like Higbrt78gjght Von Snepltippy or Greconvortz The Magchonomic can been seen in all seriousness. Why isn’t there a Bob or Fran in space? Or on the battle field? Fritz is a nice name, someone should give that a shot.


For the sake of my own sanity I often assign character names based on the first letter of their name or perhaps a last name such as Granger. You know Granger! She’s from Harry Potter! Lots of hair, annoys Ron until they start snogging? You know her.


I have other, highly specific reading strategies that have been honed over the years. For example when reading ridiculously thick books such as Pride and Prejudice, or Lord of the Rings I often skip big swaths of text in search of some dialogue. When I find it, I read it. If it makes sense, I move forward. When I finally come to a section that makes absolutely no sense because there are new characters, or they are on a boat, or the story is now being told from the point of view of a woodchuck, I stop and I back up. I back up until it makes sense, then I read a bit, skip a bit, read a bit until I get what is happening.


I am not advocating this method but it really works when I have to cram a bunch of stuff in my head and the reading is killing me because they are on the green hills ir charging over the golden fields for pages on end. It is the only way I can get through the pile of “must reads” which is usually involves a whole lot of “kinda read” or “not read at all”.


But …


Every once in a while there is an “oh man! I can’t believe I almost didn’t read this!” When that happens the world falls away and I get swallowed by the story. And that is why I read, why I teach, why I love literature. It still takes me a long time to read. I will never complete any sort of book-a-day challenge, just as I never completed in the accelerated reader stuff in school. I’m not that kind of reader. Instead, I’m a sloppy, slow, herky-jerky reader.


But …


My reading isn’t for points or scores or lists. Reading is a selfish act. Reading is for me.


Laura M. Jimenez received a Ph. D. in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology from Michigan State University in 2013. She is currently a faculty member in Boston University School of Education – Literacy program. Her research is focused on graphic novel reading comprehension and what expert readers can show us about the ways graphic novels are read and understood. Her blog can be found at