Miss Cleveland Isn’t Reading (Very Much)…

Almost there – just one more get up, and then two weeks off to recharge the batteries. As half-terms go, this hasn’t been a good one. Not because of school, but because of personal issues. I was hoping half-term would be time for me, to look after myself, but life had other ideas. Every time since then that I’ve thought, “I can’t take any more,” life has replied, “We’ll see about that then, shall we…”

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The last eight weeks have been a test of my resilience, and I’m not sure quite how I’ve kept on keeping on. What I haven’t done is read very much. I certainly haven’t been reviewing what I have read as frequently as I should.

Reading has always been my escape from the day to day grind, my sanctuary and sanity saver. So why then, have I not read as much, if not more? I’ve thought about this a lot, especially since the final session on the LOLLIES Book Awards with After School Book Club, where we discussed not only book that have us laughing out loud, but books that make us cry too.

The answer is actually very simple; my capacity to “feel” has been reached. I genuinely escape into the books I read and connect with the characters and their lives, so when I’m spending so much energy on “not feeling” to get through the day, when I do try to read, I actually panic that I won’t be able to control my emotions and I’ll feel worse than I already do. Ridiculous? Maybe, but, I know I’m not emotionally strong enough to deal with fictional heartache, when I’m dealing with enough on a daily basis in real life. I’ve hit the point where I’m comfortably numb, and right now I know a well written book could change that.

Don’t get me wrong, good days see me reading and revelling in new friends, new places, new journeys and new adventures. Bad days, however, see me staring wistfully at my to be read pile, wondering when I’ll be strong enough to enjoy the stories, because I miss reading. I miss the everyday magic that happens with each turn of the page. I shouldn’t be scared of what might happen and how it will affect me.

This in turn made me think about some of the children who read sporadically – bouts of constant reading followed by lulls. At school, it’s expected that children read for a certain amount of time every week at home. It’s something that is checked up on, and I know some of the children worry when they haven’t got that signature from an adult in their reading diary.

I dare say, some children don’t read at home regularly because they don’t want to, or are too tired, or too busy. Some children may not read at home because they find it too stressful. I wonder whether the reading diary makes those negative feelings stronger. I do know I have two lunchtime book clubs with children who are excited to be there, who actively participate in discussions, but don’t read regularly at home.

My conversations about reading at home will take a different route next term. I want them to feel excitement when they look at their book, but failing that, right now, I’d be happy to know, whatever the reason they aren’t reading regularly and enjoying it, that it isn’t because reading scares them in some way. And then hopefully, I can find a way to reignite the everyday magic of books for them.

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As for me, every good day will find me escaping into a book!

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