I have no idea what day it is, I just know it’s time for a post. Continuing our chat on the importance of reading (not just to my livelihood, but to your brains!), I’ve strapped Kelley Kaye down and insisted she give us a lesson-on-demand. Take it away, Kelley.
Although my parents read books to me since birth (my father owned a used bookstore), I have also maintained that one big way I learned to read was by watching The Electric Company circa 1972. Do you remember that show? I loved the shadows talking to each other on the screen: BR. EAK. Break. S. ING. Sing. Loved it!
So this is how the story goes. I’m three years old, and grandma has got me a book! I tear excitedly across the floor to my mother and say LOOK, grandma’s got me a book! Will you read me this book? And mom says, well, why don’t YOU read it to ME? So I do. And this is not a See Spot Run kind of book, I hear (I don’t remember, because I was three), but a legit story book. Mom was surprised. Did gramma already read you this book? she asks. Did Daddy? No, Mommy, I say. You asked me to read it to you, so I did!
And that was the beginning. My life since then has been a plethora, a myriad, a glut, multitude, overabundance, gross, nee a compendium of massive book love. I read books, sometimes (often) to the detriment of other things I should be doing (like homework, work, parenting, sleeping. Breathing), and my career(s) have always had something to do with books. Twenty years of teaching English, for example, and now I am living from both ends of the wire, and writing books.
As a teacher, I had a motto for which I became known: If You Don’t Like to Read, You Just Haven’t Found the Right Book Yet. I had a library in my classroom comprised of books from my dad’s store in every genre, every reading level, available for students to check out. I love nothing more than searching the psyche of my students to find out their interests. I listen, then twinkle my fingers over the collection, and voila! A book, often the perfect book, finds its way into the hands of my reluctant reader, and soon reluctance gives way to curiosity, experimentation, and finally, salivation. Salvation, too. Another human for whom getting lost in a book is better than sex. Okay, better than chocolate. Okay, okaaay. Better than almost anything else.
My favorite book story concerns a student from my first year of teaching: Elijah. I started my teaching career in Lake Tahoe, California, where the population was teeming with skiers. Skier kids (okay, usually snowboarder kids) are kinda like skater kids in any other town—they board to the beat of their own drum. Elijah was small and skinny, with very blonde hair that reached down to his shoulders and stuck out of a baseball cap that was always pulled clear down to his nose. He wore bellbottom jeans that were way too long, so the ends dragged along behind him in the dirt; they were his signature.
One of my classroom requirements was outside reading, anywhere from 300 to 800 pages of books of the student’s choosing. I let them pick for themselves because let’s face it: students often feel that the required reading for English is less than thrilling. When I shared my OR Requirement with Elijah’s class, along with my motto, Elijah confided in me that he’d never finished a whole book, and he was a freshman in high school!
So we talked for a while about his interests (snowboards, girls, animals) and why he didn’t like to read (books were too slow, books were boring) and after maybe ONE SECOND of thought, I gave him a book by Dean Koontz called The Watcher, a thriller about a boy and his dog. I told him to bring it back if he didn’t like it and we’d try another.
He brought it back a week later—I was disappointed that it hadn’t worked—usually Koontz is a sure-fire winner for bored readers. That’s not it! he said. I’m finished! Give me another! That year he read three Dean Koontz novels, way in excess of the 500 pages I had assigned his class. I went back to Tahoe during Elijah’s senior year and discovered he had read like 25 Koontz novels and was on to other thrillers.
I don’t know if he ever discovered a love for Jane Austen, but who cares? A reader is a reader is a reader. Once you’ve got the bug, it’s better than (almost) anything else. And if you don’t quite believe me, give me a call, because the only problem is you haven’t found the right books yet!
Kelley’s brains and books are available for you to stalk at the links below.
Death by Diploma on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Diploma-Chalkboard-Outlines-Book-ebook/dp/B01BLUB9CK/
Death by Diploma Book Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAMXkR3kA-8
Kelley and Kat on The Rack http://www.darkcomedyprods.com/kkaye.html
Kelley Kaye’s Kozy Korner: https://www.facebook.com/authorkelleykaye/
Kelley Kaye on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kelkay1202
Kelley’s Website: http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/
***Death by Diploma will soon be out on AUDIOBOOK!