By Emily Zeller
In this day and age of technology and its varied forms of entertainment, I’ve noticed that reading a good book unfortunately seems to be turning into an ancient pastime.
Grandpa comes in the living room and finds you and your buddies all crowded around the TV, absorbed in Call of Duty. He watches you for a second, shakes his head and looks somewhat longingly at the dusty, cobwebbed bookshelf and mutters something along the lines of “In my day, all we had to do for fun was read a good book.”
Admit it; something like this has happened in your lifetime. It’s certainly happened in mine.
One of our core missions here at Exemplary English is to help people with the practical use of writing and reading.
We encourage a combination of both reading and writing for up to 40 minutes a day. That means you should read for at least a half an hour and write or journal for at least 10.
You might have a few questions on what are good books to read. Exemplary English encourages readers to try classic material such as Pulitzer winners and magazines like “The New Yorker” and “Newsweek,” “Childcraft,” “Highlights for Kids,” and “National Geographic for Kids.”
Younger learners may enjoy stories like the Madeline series, The Beatrix Potter series, and the Pippi Longstocking series. Learners who struggle more with reading can also benefit from abridged, illustrated classics.
Everyone’s reading choices are different. You are not expected to love every book you read. If people suggest you will love a book, and give it to you, you just might put it down after a few pages and never pick it up again. That is okay. Experiment with new genres (categories) of literature. Get to know yourself through books. Do you like adventure? Then you might enjoy Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Do you like fantasies and mythology? Try authors like J.R.R Tolkien, Peter S. Beagle and J.K Rowling. Do you love European/English literature? Try Charles Dickens. There are endless possibilities when it comes to enjoying reading.
There are some people out there who say that some books are not the right kind for young people to be learning or even to be reading. It is true that some books are hit-and-miss as far as the word ‘classic’ is defined; you also may not find Twilight or Harry Potter on the reading list in universities. But reading should be a pleasurable activity. If you enjoy reading, then we here at Exemplary English applaud you! Reading is all about learning to appreciate and love the English language and literacy. Learning should be both practical and fun.
If English is your second language or if you speak English but also have learned another language, then I also suggest reading books in the language of your choice. Reading books about or from different cultures is also a great way to learn about the world around you. I once read a book that taught basic Hungarian and – after several months of study and practice – I was able to communicate with a little boy in my work who spoke and only understood Hungarian.
Take note: learning another language DOES NOT happen overnight. It takes a lot of time, practice and study. But I digress…. Even a translated book can be enjoyable and informative for those who do not wish to learn another language.
Reading is more fun when you are comfortable. Be sure you have no other distractions or obligations. A little music is fine, but only loud enough to be within your hearing range. It’s kind of hard to read while One Direction is blaring in the background. Make sure you have a comfy chair or another favorite spot in which to enjoy your book.
Above all, enjoy reading!
If you find reading to be more like a chore, then perhaps another book or a different time would be better for you. Only you can make these choices for yourself. Learn to recognize your own comfort zone.
Here are a couple of my favorite books.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B White
If you love stories with animals, this beautiful tale of friendship between two unlikely farm creatures will delight readers of all ages. Wilbur is a piglet who learns the power of friendship and sacrifice when he meets Charlotte, a common grey spider who lives in the loft above his sty. When Wilbur’s life is in danger from being turned into a crispy bacon breakfast, Charlotte turns a spider web into a miracle that changes both of their lives forever. While the ending might make you cry, I highly recommend it for anyone who loves animals and isn’t afraid to befriend a spider.
Peter Pan by James Barrie
This is one of my all-time favorites. Have you ever dreamed of an island occupied by pirates, Indians and lost boys? Have you ever jumped off of your tall porch in order to try to fly to same island, resulting in your mom yelling at you for being so foolish? (Note: Just because I tried this after reading Peter Pan doesn’t mean you should.) This classic children’s fantasy helped to shape my own interest in imaginative and fantasy writing. Barrie’s imaginative and colorful characters are delightful to get to know. You’ll fall in love with the cocky Peter, a boy who refuses to grow up; you’ll shiver with delight at the pirate antics of the dastardly Captain Hook, and you’ll be enchanted by the mischievous fairy, Tinkerbell.
As for writing, 10 minutes of writing is encouraged for most beginning writers.
However, no writer is restricted just to a few minutes. All writing levels have their own time and pace. As a seasoned writer, I devote about two hours a day where I sit at my computer and blog about my favorite activities and hobbies. Or if I’m feeling a bit old fashioned, I take out one of my many spiral notebooks and just journal my thoughts. I also like to write lists, short stories and even sometimes plays or screenplays.
Alongside this leisurely writing, as a current college student I also have countless papers and projects to complete.It can sometimes be tough, but I still try to devote this special two hour block of my busy day specifically for a good sit down where I can just write.
Good writers start out small. You might only like to write specifically for a purpose such as school. That is okay. Not everyone likes to spend a lot of time writing. But the more you learn to love writing, the more you will gain skills that allow you to write more than just for academic reasons.
In conclusion, reading and writing go hand in hand. Take a half hour out of your day and find a good book, one that YOU want to read and go on a fantastic journey. Whether that journey is with Frodo, Edward Cullen, Harry Potter or David Copperfield, I encourage you to take that time to learn to love books.
Also, your poor XBOX 360’s will thank you for a deserving break.
Happy Writing and Reading!