(Lunchtime reading in the office includes fruit with peanut butter and a big cup of tea)
As I grow older and start to think about having children down the line, it’s really important to me to read them bedtime stories and to try and carve reading into their daily lives outside the classroom. For me, I’m not an avid reader but I wish I was. I started to notice a few years ago that there was a problem with the way I read, books specifically so that’s what today’s blog post is focused on.
I wasn’t an avid reader when I was younger. I grew up in the generation that fell in love with Harry Potter when it was first released but I only started to read Philosopher’s Stone years later. After that, I only read a chapter or two of Chamber of Secrets and then I stopped. As someone who watched younger children around me read these books, I felt embarrassed that I felt like I couldn’t. I didn’t understand the language the author used and I didn’t understand the true meaning of some of the words. I couldn’t keep up with the storylines and the characters, it was too complex for me. This was the same as the Lord of the Rings books too.
My favourite book series at that time were the “Goosebumps” books by R.L. Stine which I still own to this day. My brother went to the United States when he was younger and he brought back the American covers and I promised myself I would never throw them out or give them away because they were always books that I loved to read over and over again. My first memory of trying to “write my first book” (suffice to say, this never came to anything), it was something that I wanted to turn into a Goosebumps story.
Jacqueline Wilson was one of my favourite authors because she wrote stories that every little girl of that age could relate to. They were so easy to read too, I felt like I could understand every scenario and it was comforting.
(Before I started using a re-usable cup for out-of-the-office tea)
It was a few years ago that I started to realise that something wasn’t right. I would read books but forget what they were about. I would have to go back a chapter each time I picked up the book, even if I had read it the day before. I had no real sense of what had happened and I can’t remember the last time it didn’t happen. I thought it was a silly problem to have and maybe this was a sign that I wasn’t meant to be a reader. A person that isn’t meant to read? Yes, I thought it was a ridiculous statement too which is why I didn’t lean on it for comfort. I looked at how I was reading and analysed it to see if there was anything I could do to help myself.
I didn’t read out loud.
I read inside because I assumed that was how everyone read material. The only time I had to read out loud was in school when your teacher called on you to read part of the class book, and back then, I was generally a fast reader. I sped through each sentence and before I knew it, I was finished. So naturally, I would speed through a book and I was finished; onto the next one. It was another tick off one of my many lists, but what exactly did I gain from that?
If I didn’t understand a word, I’d make up another pronunciation or I would skip over it entirely.
I still sometimes have a hard time with words that I can’t pronounce and it’s very embarrassing. I remember one time in college when we were doing a voice over for a class and everything was going perfectly until one of my sentences came up. When one of our team was editing it on top of the video, you could clearly tell it wasn’t the same word that was in the script, and because it was in class, I wanted to ground to swallow me up. When I’m on my own reading, if I can’t pronounce a word or say it wrong then I either glance over it or I mumble something, and I don’t go back to it.
With those two points in mind, I had to change the way I read which when you say it out loud, it does sound very strange. For me, as silly as it may sound, it was embarrassing and I knew that I was going to be the only one who was going to be able to change it. Now when I read a book (if I’m in my house on my own) I read out loud and because you’re using more energy to do that, it means I become very tired, very fast. Tiredness when reading had always been an issue for me no matter what age I was but when I started reading out loud, it soon became apparent how tired I would get.
Reading out loud means that I have to say every single word and I become very aware if I say something wrong or I don’t know how to pronounce a word. It means I can’t skip over it and I try my best with it. There have been many points where I have had to re-read a sentence five or six times in order for me to continue. Eventually in your reading session, you get to grips with the rhythm and you tend not to make many mistakes. However, as soon as tiredness hits me and I can’t read a sentence without a mistake, then I know it’s time to set it down for a while.
(My current reading material: The War For Late Night by Bill Carter)
At the beginning of the year, I signed up to a subscription to Audible, and if you don’t know what that is (although most people will have heard of it) It’s an audio book subscription service by Amazon where you get one credit a month and you can download almost any book in an audible form. I’ve heard of Audible for quite a few years but in my head, I was reluctant to sign up to it because I thought listening to an audio book was seen as “cheating”. If you didn’t physically read the book, did it count? Ridiculous I know but that was my mentality at the time. However, having listened to quite a few books since signing up, I couldn’t recommend it more. In my latest post about personal development (which I will link here) I spoke about listening to podcasts but I also took the time to listen to audio books on my way to work too. I will be doing a follow up post on the audio books I have listened to so far very soon and I haven’t loved all the ones I chose, so I’ll explain that in more depth soon.
For someone that found it very hard to read more than one chapter of a book, audio books have been a life changing discovery and I now longer feel like I am cheating by listening to the words rather than reading them.
I’ve come to terms with how I read now and I continue to read my best with it. I’m not very fast and it will take me a considerable time to read a book but it’s more important to me that I am more connected to a book because of the disconnect I felt before
Thank you so much for reading today’s post. I know it was a very different post to others I have posted about but it’s something I wanted to write about because I searched online and I couldn’t find anyone else who had had the same experience as me. So, if I can comfort one other person and let them know that it’s not as silly as it sounds, then I’ll be over the moon. Enjoy the rest of your day!