Make a Little Time to Read by Ruth Duran-Chea
Life is busy. We have plenty to do with work, chores, errands, extra-curricular activities, more work, and everything else that we do between getting up in the morning and going to bed at night so we can do it all over again the next day. Making time for ourselves is hard enough, but does that mean that carving time out to read is nearly impossible?
There are so many reasons to pick up a book and start leafing through its pages – whether you are the kind of person who needs a physical book that you can dog-ear, write on, or even smell… or the kind of person who loves the simplicity and instant gratification that comes with reading on an electronic device. I’m a bit of both. I am a reader: eternally in love with the way words align on a page, causing us to laugh, cry, sigh, hold our breath, scream, and lean at the edge of our seats awaiting the next move, the next phrase, and the next part of the story.
And so, despite how hectic life can get, here are some of the reasons why I (and possibly you) simply need to make time to read –
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley.
Reading is a form of escapism. The right book can transport you not only to a far off place, but also to another time… to another world, entirely. I definitely felt that way when I read The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. It was exactly what I needed at that time – a story to question the norm, revive hope, and make the impossible come true. It is a story about an elephant that is conjured out of thin air by a desperate magician, and turns an otherwise quiet town upside down. Oddly enough, it was the elephant that I connected with the most: “She knew only one thing to be true. Where she was, was not where she should be. Where she was, was not where she belonged.” Thus, despite being incredibly busy at the time, I am so glad that I took time out to read this beautiful story. One that was would make me wonder, “But what if? Why not? Could it be?”
“We read to know we are not alone.” – C.S. Lewis
…And speaking of connecting with characters, anyone who’s had the privilege of reading all about Auggie in R.J. Palacio’s Wonder knows how just what an amazing character he is, how he is able to touch many lives, and finally get his much deserved standing ovation. This is the story about a rather ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, who inspires all of those around him to choose kindness over bullying, to choose humor over meanness, and choose to look deep within a person, rather than judge a boy by his face. It made me not only root for our little underdog, but also take a good look at the other characters within the story, and their own struggles. Everyone is going through something – thus, “when given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.” George R.R. Martin
Another excellent reason to read is simply for the many ways that it expands your horizons, your outlook, and your ability to live vicariously through the eyes and adventures of others. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak had that effect on me. It is a poetic narrative about a young girl living through World War II in Germany; she is determined to learn to read, and she is driven to steal books because she understands the importance of the stories contained within. How can a reader not immediately fall in love with such a person? “She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”
Books have the ability to let you grow up, love, and live through whatever wonderful or agonizing moments a character does… it is a transformative event. And although sometimes the words within a page compel you to shed some very real tears, to live that life, even if just for that one moment, is truly a priceless experience.
“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” – Joyce Carol Oates
… And that idea, brings me to this next reason: when we read a story that is so well-written and so gripping that it can transport us into another’s soul, you know you’re reading a great book. That’s how I feel about Isabel Allende’s Paula. It is a beautifully written memoir about her daughter’s illness, which eventually led to her death. It is the story of a mother struggling with her inability to save her child. It is a painfully honest recounting of mistakes, of memories, of small triumphs, and of the ultimate defeat in the face of death. Yet, it is also about the strength of moving on, and accepting that we are lucky to have those we love so much around us for whatever amount of time they are there.
In short, reading makes life richer. It exercises our imaginations by taking us far away and making us see through different eyes. Reading allows us to live better lives, and to appreciate so many things we have, while also causing us to yearn for fictitious people we desire to meet, and places we wish we could visit. Taking time to read makes us better people, and enhances our perception of what the world can be.
So I hope you’ll pick up a book and read tonight, even if just for a little while.
Ruth Duran-Chea has been a full-time classroom teacher for the past 10 years, as well as a reader, book-reviewer, jetsetter, doodler, sometimes blogger (www.doodlesandwords.com) and avid daydreamer. When she’s not taming her middle-schoolers in the Bronx or grading papers, you’ll find her curled up on her couch with a good book… unless she’s found a beach to read by, in which case, she’ll definitely be at the beach!