My family and I are moving across town to a new house. That means one thing:
In the course of packing, I am taking stock of the things we have accumulated. The things we needed, the things we wanted, and the gifts we gave.
That last one is what has me typing this out these thoughts.
A few years ago, we got my oldest daughter (Leslie) the Harry Potter series. She had never read them- heck, I had never read them- but she was interested and her friends were talking about it. So, we bought the whole series. We would all read the books and have shared experience as a family. And aside from Kenna having no interest in Harry Potter whatsoever, it has worked.
Leslie and Kenna have both always liked reading, but when we gave Leslie the Potter series, something powerful happened. Her reading comprehension increased, her analysis of text increased, and her excitement- really her JOY- of reading exploded. But something more important happened.
It changed our relationship as father and daughter.
We had a great relationship to begin with, but now we had deep discussions of literature. And when we both finished Potter, we moved on to other series. Percy Jackson, the Divergent series, now we are reading the Heroes of OIympus (and she is way ahead of me). Some have been mutually well-received, others not as much. But each page, each chapter has given us a chance to connect.
I did not just give my daughter the gift of reading, I gave the gift of relationship.
It struck me, looking at the collection of books growing on my daughters' shelves (both are avid readers now) that reading is relationship. You connect with characters and stories, and then you connect with others who love those same fictional people and events. You discuss and debate and dissect the prose, you share theories and predictions, and you learn more about the real people around you. Leslie is a Hermione, I am a strange Lupin/Snape hybrid. And we connect there.
When we as educators give our kids something to read, we are giving them a chance at a relationship- with literature and with each other and with us.
Next year, if I am a classroom teacher, I will have a library of books and graphic novels that relate to my subject matter for students and I to share and discuss. If I am able to become an administrator- I will have a library of books and graphic novels that relate to my subject matter for students and I to share and discuss. I want to create an environment that is conducive to building academic relationships around shared interests. I want to foster connections between myself and my students, and my students and literacy.
Things have come full circle: the gift I gave my daughter has now become a gift to me to now give to my students. I have learned a valuable lesson:
Reading is Relationship.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, Communication Applications and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team and co-sponsor Student Council. I am an aspiring administrator.