Friday, June 24, 2011


Gavin has become an avid reader. It's not unusual to find him sitting, cross-legged, on the floor reading a book or magazine. It's something that I'm so proud and happy to see.

I love to read as well, but as a young child it was a chore. It didn't come easily at first and because I was slow, it was frustrating. I remember seeing my cousin, who was younger than I, quickly and confidently read passages with little apparent effort. You see, she was a faster reader. I equated fast with good.

The curriculum in Gavin's school involved timed reading activities. During the school year, Gavin brought home passages that he was to read in one minute. We'd count the number of words he could correctly read in that minute and record the results. He had three chances to improve his 'score.' It was a reading race.

That exercise was something that I didn't really care for. We seemed to be placing more of an emphasis on saying the words quickly than we did on actually understanding the passage. We seemed to forget that reading without understanding and comprehending is a waste of time. What good is it to read fast if you don't have any idea what it is that you just read?

It all brought back memories of my own slow reading. I was sure that this boy, who thinks everything is a race, would become one of those kids who speeds through reading as a monotone exercise. A race to the end, with no inflection. No emotion. No joy.

But there is joy. There is delight in a story. There is fascination in the words. There is a sense of empowerment that I can see in him. He can be independent when he reads. He can understand. It's that independent streak in him, and in the 7-year-old version of myself, that keep us reading... building those pictures in our minds that the printed words on the page inspire... and keep us coming back for more, no matter how fast or how slow we might read the words.

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