Letters: An Inevitable Conversation

Japayuki: A Novel

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reading is Essential

As a high school teacher I had the honor and privilege of working some of the most dedicated and hard working students imaginable. No, I’m not speaking of the brainiacks, or the gifted and talented; I’m speaking of the special needs students. These young people struggled in ways you and I can only imagine. They were grossly dyslexic, hearing impaired, auditory impaired, and vision impaired, and suffered with conditions that hindered their lives daily. One young student was legally blind, but she wore her “coke” bottle glasses religiously, and was never seen without her novel in hand; that book was plastered to her face, but she read. Whenever I read to them, whether “Of Mice and Men,” “The Pearl,” or the “Old Man and the Sea” they would struggle to follow along in the book, stopping me often, begging to know our page number and chapter, so they could catch up. The true heart wrenching cases were those who suffered with dysgraphia. Try as they might, the simply could not get their words down on paper. And so my pain and suffering comes from watching capable readers, able readers, not reading. We may be thrilled with our “technology” today, but trust me, the day is coming when we will all be thinking, “what the hell did we do to our kids?” As parents, we have a responsibility, or we used to, and that was simply to prepare our children for life. Well, life demands readers. In this day, there are those who are prolific readers and writers, and there are those who are illiterate, guess which ones will dominate in the coming ages.

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