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I have a confession. I've been in a reading drought...a serious reading drought. I can't explain it. School has been out for weeks and I haven't finished one book. Not. One. Book. I sit in shame as I watch friends participate in Book A Day challenges and book clubs about professional books and YA books. I continue to order books. I have piles waiting for me...and I don't read them.
The shame spirals. I wonder, "What is wrong with me?!?!" I sit down to read and I can't focus on any one book for more than a few minutes and I refocus my attention on something else. I tell myself, "It's because I'm writing a lot this summer." I tell myself, "I am so busy, I'll get back to it." Excuses. All excuses. How can that happen? ME?!?! Not read?
This weekend I forced the issue. I made myself sit down, I set the timer and I picked up a book. It's a book I promised to read, as I received an advanced copy. The timer was set, I settled in and started reading. After less than ten minutes, my mind was wandering already, but I refused to move until the timer went off. And then it hit me, "I'm not enjoying this book. I don't like it." And then I panicked, "How can I not enjoy this book?!?! Everyone else who is reading this LOVES it! What's the matter? Am I not getting it? I don't understand, why don't I like it?" When the timer rang, I'd read a few chapters and gave myself permission to feel however I wanted to feel about this book. I found it boring.
Next, I considered my students! I am a teacher. I am a reader. I LOVE to read...and this happened to me. I forgot that simple lesson about enjoying reading. I forgot to give myself permission to abandon a book. I forgot that I loved reading.
My readers that never knew the love of reading feel like this everyday when they walk into my class. They feel the dread. The boredom. The confusion. Maybe they feel the shame. The panic. The confusion. It's ok. They need permission. They need to continue their search for that book. The one that will pull them into being a reader. And after that book, the search continues. I need to remember to be patient with my students who just aren't finding any book enjoyable. Remember the shame and the fear and the confusion. TEN MINUTES. I give a book ten minutes and then I'll try again.
I'm happy to say that my reading drought is finally over.
I'm back to reading professional books and I've almost finished a beautiful novel by Patricia MacClachlan called Kindred Souls.
I'm reading Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke.
I'm reading books about writing.
There are books waiting for me on my Kindle, like, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
While I've struggled through this reading drought, I am grateful for it. These weeks and these feelings will make me a better teacher of readers.