I found some notes today labeled “Life Writing” Zadie Smith. I read her book Feel Free and these are a few snippets I took from the book.
“If you’re going to write a diary, it should be like this, it should be utterly free, honest.”
“I realize I don’t want any record of my days. I have the kind of brain that erases everything that passes, almost immediately, like that dust pan and brush dog in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, sweeping up the path as he progresses along it. I never know what I was doing on what date, or how old I was when this or that happened – and I like it that way.”
Unfortunately, some students are labeled RELUCTANT READERS as their primary reading identity and it needs to stop.
In the realm of education, the phrase reluctant reader gets thrown around a lot. I believe there is some truth in this phrase. I also believe that some students have not found the right text to make them into a reader.
I say text purposefully because it isn’t always a book. It could be a blog, a graphic novel, tweets, articles, etc.
Different factors make up our reading identity. Reluctance a small part of a reader’s identity no matter how old you are. I have an inbox of school emails that I am reluctant to read. I can procrastinate for as long as I can but I have adult deadlines. I have put some of this reading in my bullet journal and there are arrows moving certain tasks to the next day for DAYS. Can you relate?
I have to read a 20 page article for a meeting on Thursday. Am I reluctant? YOU BETCHA!
I too am a reluctant reader.
Am I a reluctant reader all the time? Absolutely not. Neither are our students, and we need to stop saying it.
I can be a reluctant reader for book club too – a book I am supposed to like that I am not enjoying as much. Can I appreciate the character development? Yes. Can I talk about it and notice the positives? Yes.
This is not the only factor that gets a bolded capital label for students. Reading level is another issue. These factors are part of the process of how we become a better reader. We need to remember to look at the whole child, not just numbers.
Labels can be helpful and dangerous. I am trying to find the new balance for where I stand.
Most of the time, I would rather be reading. That is part of my identity too.
It is Sunday! Let’s meet at a bookstore today shall we? I just finished The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle and I would find the book and show it to you.
If we were having coffee mine would be really strong. I like dark roast and drink it black. What are you having? If we stay a long while I may have a caramel macchiato. I am a sucker for caramel but only treat myself once in while. Today is an occasion for that, don’t you think? The cafe in this bookstore is nice…maybe we can share a scone or a piece of pumpkin or apple pie. I will let you choose.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that I am really tired. We moved into a new house on September 24th. It was a stressful day and we moved everything in the afternoon and evening. We had our furniture and personal belongings in two separate place but only one truck. She was a beast but we got everything but 2 chairs and a box I cannot find. Those spices are somewhere! I am having trouble resting though. It feels like there is pressure and work everywhere and not a place to wind down.
If we were having coffee I would share with you that I am running again! I ran 10 miles last weekend and I ran 10 miles this weekend! I used to run 60-80 miles a week….I miss some things about those days but not the time that it took. I didn’t hate the last runs so that is positive. The bike trail where I run is picturesque. I know it is called a BIKE trail but the runners know it is really for them. 😉
If we were having coffee, we would have to talk about the challenges I particpate in and you might have to tell me that I am overdoing it. So far this year, I did the Two Writing Teachers blog challenge in March, I did Storyaday May, I did Storyaday September and I am planning to do NANOWRIMO in November. Then I would have to confess that I am doing a self imposed challenge combining two word lists – INKTOBER and 31 days of FMF or Five Minute Friday. I am revising some short stories that I am writing but cannot help to keep creating. I dare say it might be my new addiction. DO I need an intervention?
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I started a critique group with some fellow writers from the Storyaday Superstars and I am super excited about it. I really need feedback on the piece I sent to them (I am first) and I am hoping we can help each other become better writers.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to my real life writers group last Thursday. I was really proud of the story I took and the group was fascinated with the story separator I used. I must confess it was super cute. ha ha Several people read poems which were really good and another woman read a first person point of view piece about a real person she is making stories up about.
I want to hear about your challenges you are going through – self imposed or not! I want to hear about your hobbies. I want to hear about how you take care of yourself and rest!
As the weather toys with getting cooler I think about the activities I like to do in front of the fireplace. I am always looking for the interesting around me. I enjoy recording these sparks for stories later, whether it is for my fiction or non-fiction. The non-fiction tends to be the blog and fiction tend to be short stories in my life. Sometimes, they bleed over into my verbal world as limited as I try to make it.
Yesterday I remembered that I used to write letters. I had pen pals starting in elementary school. It started with a family friend’s granddaughter that lived several towns over. To a 9-year-old, a 30-minute drive was worlds away. There was excitement in writing about my daily activities and putting those treasures of words into an envelope and sending them off and then anxiously awaiting the response, which was never quick enough for me.
Soon, I found out about the concept of mail art and started making my own envelopes. I played with shapes and writing letters on different types of paper. It was not unusual during the month of October for me to cut out the shape of a large ghost and write a letter on him. I started shopping with my allowance at the Hallmark store for the fanciest paper I could afford. I am pretty sure I was the only 10 year old getting the Crane Stationary catalog in the mail.
One time, I sent my German grandmother a letter and put glitter in the folds of the paper. Not until it was safely in the mailperson’s hand did it occur to me that my very CLEAN and TIDY German grandmother may be upset with me when glitter fell all over her freshly cleaned floor if it was Wednesday…luckily she called me laughing after she had received my prose. The explosion of glitter had delighted her in the most unexpected and surprising way – THANK GOODNESS!
In late high school, I found Alexandra Stoddard’s book The Gift of a Letter and was amazed that someone else felt about letter writing the way I had for years. It was validating and a book I had reread numerous times.
I wrote to several friends in college and was always aiming for a full mailbox.
When I graduated college I read in a newspaper, maybe the New York Times, about The Letter Exchange: a magazine for letter writers that connected people with security in place.
As I took my letter journey I knew I had to pay attention to my life so I could write about it later. I really do wish I had copies of some of the letters I wrote. I thought of them as gifts to the person I was sending it to – just for that one person. A snippet of my life that I would share only with them.
The noticing I did for my letter writing has helped me now as a writer. I observe and record with abandon the experiences around me. The difference is I am writing and sharing the pieces in a much more formal way. Email just isn’t the same.
I am thinking I am might need to revisit letter writing…I may have to get back on that Crane stationary mailing list.
After some reflection, I realized I was introduced to short stories back in high school. In one of my English classes, we read The Celestial Omnibus by E.M. Forster and it has always stuck with me. I have reread it over the years several times. There is always something new that pops out to me each time. It was my introduction to magical realism and short story done well.
If you would like to read it you can find a copy here.
The beginning paragraph has always been a section I reread even when I do not have time to read the whole story.
The boy who resided at Agathox Lodge, 28, Buckingham Park Road, Surbiton, had often been puzzled by the old sign-post that stood almost opposite. He asked his mother about it, and she replied that it was a joke, and not a very nice one, which had been made many years back by some naughty young men, and that the police ought to remove it. For there were two strange things about this sign-post: firstly, it pointed up a blank alley, and, secondly, it had painted on it in faded characters, the words, “To Heaven.”
I did not know what an omnibus was and remember being glad this description was written in the story:
It had two horses, whose sides were still smoking from their journey, and its two great lamps shone through the fog against the alley’s walls, changing their cobwebs and moss into tissues of fairyland. The driver was huddled up in a cape. He faced the blank wall, and how he had managed to drive in so neatly and so silently was one of the many things that the boy never discovered. Nor could he imagine how ever he would drive out.
It is a story full of adventure and imagination! I highly recommend it.