Do You READ Enough? - National Council of Teachers of English
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Do You READ Enough?

This post is written by member Susan Wagner. 

I remember books, those stacks of printed paper held in place with a decorative cover. I remember hearing the crack of the spine as I opened a new novel, sinking my nose in between the pages to relish that “new book” scent. My bookcases are stacked with these friends, old and new. I even tote hundreds of them around on my smartphone. I’m ashamed to admit it has been a while since I’ve read any of them.

English professionals advocate reading literature, but according to a Pew report, more than one-quarter of Americans have not read a book in the last year. Could you be one of them?

Here are seven motivational tips and links to help you venture into the land of FLOW and give your brain the reenergizing it needs.

  1. Make a reading appointment. Carve out a specific time during your day to read. Don’t feel defeated if changing up your routine feels like climbing Mt. Everest. One time of the day that is beneficial for reading is just before bed. Reading at night is purported to help you sleep better. However, using technology can be problematic and hinder your brain’s production of melatonin. Keep the bright light out of your eyes and swap the phone for a book and a book light.
  2. Create your own reading zone. So you have found some time and are ready to make that commitment. An inviting chair along with a side table for your latte, a comfy throw for cool nights, and a bookshelf to hold your literary quests will make it easier to escape your hectic routine for the time travel and adventure in the Outlander.
  3. Can’t decide on what to read? Try some Retail Therapy. Visit the public library and local bookstores to peruse their displays. Creative displays and enticing covers may inspire you to select the “just right” book for your return journey into reading. Creative designer Derek Murphy blogs about publishing and writes about the influence of book cover designs.
  4. Subscribe to Bookbub for daily e-book recommendations. It’s a great way to delve into the guilty pleasures of reading a murder mystery or high fantasy on the weekends. With one click you can download your e-book and commence reading.
  5. Goal oriented? Get motivated with the same methods you use to motivate your students. Many public libraries provide reading programs and incentive items like the Reading Bingo Card produced by the San Rafael [California] Public Library. Gain knowledge and wisdom and explore a genre you’ve never read before.
  6. Phone your friends. With all your newfound book savvy, why go it alone? Start a book club with your colleagues, neighbors, or family members. Oprah’s televised book club inspired millions. Inspire other teachers and be a model for students. Take a page from Oprah and see the best books from Oprah’s book club.
  7. Return to the familiar. What better time to reread a favorite novel from years past? Rereading a book is not like watching a TV rerun, where the scenes are the same. Each time you reread a novel, you are reinterpreting that story through the lenses of your many experiences since your first read. Pull out that old copy of Catcher in the Rye and see what Holden Caulfield is up to these days.

If you are absolutely stretched for time, fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, and all the comfy chairs in your home have been hijacked by your pets, you have another option: get your daily read on by reading to your students.

The New York Times put together a list of recommendations for read-alouds. Commit to reading aloud to your students each day. No matter their ages or your place in the pacing guide, reserving time each day to share a phenomenal book will not only inspire your students, but you will reap the benefits as well.

Susan R. Wagner obtained her PhD in reading from the University of Tennessee. She is assistant professor of education and teaches literacy and instructional methods courses in the Carter and Moyers School of Education for Lincoln Memorial University.