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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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 http://booktoss.wordpress.com/
Such an important post. Thank you!!
Thank you for this. I am working through a must-read pile for school, and just last night I had a little guilt over skipping through pages of the endless description of a battle. I got the crux of it, though, and moved on to the next (more enjoyable) book.
Reading is a selfish act. Wonderful post, but that last line is perfect! I just wish more of my students (and yes, some teachers) understood how selfish it should be.
Thank you so much for writing about this topic. I do not have dyslexia but I am a slow reader. It probably started when I was very young, and, like you said, it’s too hard to change it now. And I do compare myself to other readers. Because I teach middle grade kids, I read middle grade novels. This has become my excuse for not reading Goldfinch this year like everyone else. The truth is I can’t face a book that long. It scares me. Thanks for being truthful.
Thank you for sharing so honestly. My son thinks he is a “bad” reader because he reads slowly. I tell him (and so does his teacher) that his enjoyment and his comprehension are far more important than speed! Always nice to have another “told ya so” story to share.
My “national merit scholar, 4.37 GPA @ graduation, 2nd year law student (on scholarship)” daughter thinks that she is a bad reader because she read slowly. How did we get to this point of qualifying and quantifying a person’s reading? I tell my students at school that reading is reading. Yes, I do want them to sometimes stretch themselves but reading Captain Underpants is not going to make them a dumb reader. Just read!
Thank you for the very honest post! I’m intrigued that you continue reading books that don’t grab you and pull you in and swallow you up in the story–you have more staying power than I do! I think that this is especially important for writers to remember, that we are writing for all sorts of people bringing all sorts of things to the table. I compare my reading list to others as well, but you are SO right, it’s all about what I get out of a book, not the experience everyone else is having. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective!
Thank you for these important, valuable insights into your reading life and experiences. This post will stick with me as I work with others who read in their own ways.
Like you, I keep lists but mostly for my own use. (I have a notebook where I’ve listed every book read since 1987; it’s one of my treasures.) I also like to look at lists compiled by others, not for any comparative or competitive purpose but to get ideas of what else I might like to read.
I’m a reader, my mom is a reader, and my brother is a reader. Two of us are fast readers and one of isn’t. He was diagnosed with dyslexia in 9th grade…but he was and still is a reader. He loves fantasy! Dragons, wizards, made-up planets all appeal to him. But he is painfully slow. But I’ve never held that against him because he introduced me to some of my favorite authors. What I love about his situation is that he is willing to struggle through it all for the love of the story. That and the fact that he remembers what he reads. He may not remember to change the clothes over but he remembers the plots and characters from a book he read 15 years ago!
His wife studied to become a diagnostician and used him for testing purposes. Guess what they found out?! The proper term for his disability is dysgraphia. He has a form that prevents him from developing a mental movie when he reads. There he was reading about wizards without being able to picture them. Know what the solution is for him? He has to listen to it. When he hears the stories, he can create a mental movie. Needlesstosay, he is “rereading” many of those awesome books he struggled through years ago. I’ve offered to record any book he wants so he can see it the way I do! Thank goodness, he never compared his reading abilities to mine or our mother’s. Thank goodness he loved reading and didn’t let his issues stop him.
Well said! I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your struggles. I feel the peer pressure too and your post made me realize that reading is about me. 🙂
Thank you! Such a great insight for me into dyslexic reading.
Absolutely lovely, honest post. Thank you for sharing.
It is so important for each one of us to hear your story! In knowing about the struggles and learned successes of others, we are made more cognizant and tolerant of different paths to literacy. Reading is selfish, and should always be done on
our own terms!