If I didn’t already know that reading is vital and fundamental (sorry, FUNdamental), my current jobs would leave me with no doubt. So many of the struggling writers I tutor are very intelligent and creative people, but they don’t seem to understand how language works. It’s not a coincidence that most of them also hate reading. Of course sentence structure is confusing and idioms are unfamiliar; without reading, they don’t have enough exposure to how other writers use language.
I work with so many non-readers and cell-phone/television/video game addicts that sometimes I feel like a bitter senior citizen bemoaning the fact that the world has moved on and that no one understands what is important anymore.
Thank goodness that I also tutor a few students who restore my faith in a literate world.
My youngest tutoring student carries a book with her all of the time – always one well above grade level – and dives into it whenever she has a spare moment between exercises. She is also ridiculously exuberant whenever she has to read aloud. Today she was happily clutching Eragon, and she explained that she’d had to return it to the library before she was finished and then wait a few weeks for it to be back on the shelf again. I told her that if that ever happened again, I would happily trust her with my own copy of Eragon instead. Her eyes lit up with enough excitement and gratitude to make me feel all warm and fuzzy for days.
She reminds me of myself as a child (and also as an adult I suppose, since I still carry a book with me almost everywhere I go) and she gives me true hope for the future. I really want to search my old bedroom when I go home for Thanksgiving to find childhood gems to pass on to her. Most of all, I can’t wait to someday write a novel that she would be excited to read.