The Castle Herald
Every Picture Tells A Story

Bring Books to Life:Put the Fun Back in Reading

Sometimes, when I’m going through a difficult period of writing, I’ve found it helpful to focus by trying to write for a particular girl, one that I imagined, named Emily.

Emily the passionate reader kept me going when I lacked the strength to work. When I couldn’t make my writing come together I would think of Emily and the book I was writing. I would envision Emily curled up in a chair reading a book; my book.  In her imagination she is in a new time and place that I created. She is lost in the story; when Emily’s mother calls her away from my book, she goes reluctantly and impatiently. The vision of Emily the devoted reader is precious to me as a writer. But as a young mother faced with my own devoted reader, my attitude wasn’t so sentimental.

Years ago, when I sent my daughter to bed I accompanied my “sleep tight” with a stern admonition to go to sleep right away because it was a school night. But late at night as I climbed the stairs, I often glimpsed a sliver of light shining under her door.  With a martyr’s sigh, I entered the room and pulled back the covers to reveal a startled little girl clutching a book and the flashlight she was reading by. Night after night, I confiscated the flashlight and the book, and warned her what would happen if she continued to read after bedtime.

I’m relieved that rather than discouraging her, those bedtime lectures made reading a forbidden pleasure. I think that the value of each book was heightened by the guilt I had instilled. She continued to read as many books as she could, not just to thwart my authority, but because she loved the stories and the new world she found within. Reading was fun. Now, years later when I read the scary statistics about the increasing number of kids who can’t read, or who don’t want to read, I wish I had been more understanding with my daughter.

I was lucky that she read well. Whenever the house grew quiet I usually found her curled up with a book. Reading was a comfort, something to be enjoyed; it enhanced her understanding, her imagination, her use of language, and her writing. She would risk lectures and punishment rather than give up what she loved.

I missed the fun of reading when I was a child, because I was a poor reader. My shyness may have interfered with learning. Or it might have been that my parents, who told me lots of stories, were too exhausted to read me stories from books. They hadn’t demonstrated that books were fun.

As an adult I empathize with the kids who do not read at grade level; I imagine their humiliation when they are called on to read in class and do a poor job of it. I sympathize with their parents who know that poor reading skills will affect their child’s grades and their entire future.

I am thankful that I learned to read, and that I grew to love reading. This happened because I had a determined teacher.

Miss Packer expected  all of her students to learn to read. She taught us phonics and spelling; she had good readers mentor struggling ones; but most importantly, she read aloud to us each day.  Her narration made us understand the story; her dramatic style as she became every character made us want to know what came next; she brought the books to life for us. She showed us that reading was fun.

When I finally learned how to read it became my favorite pastime.

And, yes, just as it did for my daughter after me, reading comforted me. Reading enhanced my understanding, and my imagination; it improved my writing. Reading helped me grow-up and grow strong. Reading brought me joy, and the dream that someday I would be a writer.

In 2000 I opened the website for my company City Castles.  From the beginning, the site had an online story about a Colorado family. The illustrations for the story became the pictures on the greeting cards and Christmas cards which were City Castles’ first products. My first book in a three-book series, a mystery/adventure for ages 8 and up, grew out of that story. Arthur Collins and the Three Wishes was published by City Castles Publishing in 2008. Recently I published Bridging the Book: Arthur Collins and the Three Wishes, and at 6:30 p.m.on November 28th, at Read Write and Brew, a book store  in Golden CO, I will present a program based on the book’s format, with an adult reader and scenes from the book. It will be a new and easy way for kids to learn to love reading.

Teachers help children gain the reading skills they need. Writers bring them the books with stories and characters they love. Libraries and bookstore owners offer reading events that spark and increase the desire to read. Together with parents, they can help kids develop into another generation of  avid readers: kids like my imagined Emily, whose mothers will find them hiding under their covers with a flashlight and the latest book.

Monday, November 28th

6:30 p.m.

Read, Write & Brew

720 Golden Ridge Road Unit D

Golden, Colorado

Admission: Free

Program: Bridging The Book: Arthur Collins and the Three Wishes

A new audience experience. A fun book event that combines a gifted adult reader, narration, and scenes from the book.  An easy way for kids to learn to love to read! Kids, parents, home school groups, and adult & kid book clubs will enjoy this Bridging the Book event.  Questions? Call: 303.755.6021