Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This Year, I Resolve to Read More Books

While resolving to be thinner, kinder, and more loving in 2015, resolve also to read. Writers read, and readers grow wise, evinced by Max, a student in North Carolina. His words appear below.

Happy New Year, Baby!
“In the modern world, the only access most kids have to violence, like rape and torture is exploited and extorted through sensationalized media. Education is where we can change our path, and learn to view these events, past, present, and future, through an educational lens that allows us to learn and grow from the experiences that others have been forced to endure.

As long as we live safe and peaceful lives in a developed country, the least we can do is learn to respect and honor those who are less fortunate. We cannot close the blinds to real history and real events, and real pain just because it makes us uncomfortable. If reading about rape and torture is unnerving, imagine what it must be like to live it. It’s a scary thought, but sadly one that too many people are familiar with.

If this generation wants to make a mark on the world as one that is inclusive and supportive and one that reaches out and holds up those who suffer, if we want to be a generation that reaches the highest standard we need to open our minds and discover the real world we’re living in. And we need teachers and authors and everyone in between to support our youth in that journey. We need The House of Spirits. . . ” (Whitaker, Mary K. ""Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition"" Council Chronicle 24.2 (2014): 22. Print.)

Max was one of several students who spoke before a Boone school board during hearings about one parent’s determined effort to protect her child from The House of Spirits, a novel taught by Mary Kent Whitaker to tenth-grade students on an Advanced Placement track. Whitaker inspired Max to speak against censorship and in favor of education through literature.

Max recognizes that fiction opens doors to worlds he may never experience. He understands that these worlds enrich him. He is an advocate for reading as a path to empathy and understanding.

Writers who read understand Max. They also know that reading enhances their own use of language. So make a reading list for 2015.

Reading Challenge:

Read Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits. As you progress through the novel, return to Max’s words, reminding yourself about the lessons he drew from the novel.

Writing Challenge:

Use this blog to make a reading list for 2015. Each weekly post includes a reading challenge. Or write down the books you would recommend to a book club in search of titles for their entertainment and instruction. Making such a list will help you recall why you admired the book, what you gained from it.