We’ve got a blog post that’s going to get you all talking, I guarantee! Tyndale’s Sigmund Brouwer says books are boring! And he tells that to the kids he speaks to regularly. But, wait…read his reasoning first and then let us know what you think. To learn more about Sigmund, visit his Facebook page – click here
During my literacy presentations at schools, I enjoy getting a reaction out of the librarians and teachers when I make the dramatic statement that ‘books are boring’. At first, most think I am joking, but it’s based on a foundational premise for all the literacy work I do with kids and teachers: reading and writing is just a delivery system.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Reading and writing is the most amazing delivery system in the world. As soon as humans were able to record knowledge and pass it to future generations, the upward trajectory of our combined total knowledge began to accelerate to the point where now human knowledge is roughly doubling again and again with the passing of each year. At the dawn of writing, horses were our fastest means of travel — now we are capable of flying to the moon and back. Writing is cool and amazing, as I tell the kids, but despite its role as the greatest invention, writing is still just a delivery system. Unless writing delivers something worth reading — such as information or story — it’s just a jumble of words on paper.
With this in mind, I argue that there are many different delivery systems for story: among those delivery systems are reading, writing, daydreaming, movies, cartoons, plays, and more.
In short, reading and writing is totally separate from story.
This is a crucial distinction.
Story is fun, compelling, engaging, and what makes us human. Writing is often hard work. (Worth it, because of the necessity for literacy in this world, but for most of us, writing is difficult.)
My pitch to the students then is simple. Don’t read and write because it’s good for you, even though it is. Don’t read and write because you get better with practice, even though you do. Read because reading delivers story, and write because it gives you a chance to put a story on paper that can make your teacher giggle or get scared or get curious.
So, are books boring? Yes. Books are just paper and glue and ink. What’s amazing about books, however, is that they can deliver STORY, and that reading STORY gives you a chance to watch a movie in your head.
Thus, where I begin with any child who is a picky reader — let’s not call them ‘reluctant readers’, because that often becomes a label they live up to — is by finding out what kinds of stories will appeal to their emotions. From there, I help them find a book with that story at that child’s reading level.
And once they open the book and get hooked on story, happily, they forget they are even holding that piece of paper and glue and ink. Because it’s all about story.
Try sharing this technique with your kids…and see what happens. Leave a comment and let us know how it works!