Reading is Fun and Mental

by Stan Carlson

Why do I love to read so much? And when I say love to read, I mean I love to read: I can fly through     three or four novels a week no problem. But where did this passion of mine come from?
When I think back on it, was probably my mother: She's an avid reader herself, and she always pressured us to read and made reading time a nightly affair in our house. But wait, I hated that. I remember hating it so bad I would fake my way through it most nights. I would rather stare at a book and pretend to read, rather than just read the darned thing. So my question stands: Why do I love to read? And another question comes to mind: How do I get my own children to love reading?
               First, I want to mention the benefits I've gained from reading so often. Number one has to be the reading itself. The simple act of reading, line after line, page after page, hour after hour, is relaxing like you wouldn't believe. Next has to be the stories. I know we have all heard it before, and it may sound corny, but reading truly can take you places - places you never thought you could go. From medieval castles, to vampire weddings, the possibilities are endless. But what can all this practice reading be good for in the real world? Most important is comprehension. Being able to understand what you are reading the first time is a very valuable trait, especially when it comes to information. Doesn't matter if it's school, Internet, history books, or how to fix your car: not having to read something over again is a real timesaver.
               I think the first time I really started to enjoy reading was during a not-so-brief incarceration. Sure there's TV, and card games, and plenty of other inmates to talk to, but what do you do in your cell all night? This was the question I asked my cellmate, and that's when he handed me a worn out copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. Right away, I was hooked. I mean this book had everything: It's a love story, a prison story (which at that moment I was really relating to), a treasure hunt. It has duels, plenty of action, and, of course, revenge. The first thing that popped in my head when I was done was, "I thought books were boring". All it took was one great story, and I was hooked. I started out reading everything by Alexander Dumas I could, and I was not disappointed. Even today, The Three Musketeers is one of my favorites. Next I was reading similar novels and asking everyone around their favorites. By the time I was released, I was hooked - I couldn't stop, which I guess in a way contributed to my new straight-as-an-arrow lifestyle. So did reading change my life? Now, I know it sounds cheesy, but yes it did.
               Back to my own children, of which there are two: A boy of twelve, and a girl of nine. When it comes to my children, they are both so much like me, but in different ways. My daughter can be very stubborn and wild, but she loves to read and her school work is very good. My son, on the other hand, is very sensitive, and when it comes to reading, thinks all books are boring. So how do I get my son to love reading as I do? At his age, my mother took more of a forceful tactic with me, and got no good results. So what to do? Forcing him would probably only make him pretend to read as I did. I started off trying to give books I loved to hope he would find a story he loves and be hooked as I was, but that didn't work as I'd hoped. So next, my approach has been to take him to the bookstore and set him loose in the teenage section. So far, so good. He's reading the thirty minutes a night, some wimpy kid books that his English class requires, no problem, and some nights he's even reading more until he finishes the chapter. I think it just might work. If not maybe I'll read a book on it.