What was the last book you read? Not for work or an assignment or because your book club forced you. What was the last book you read because you chose to, for nothing more than your own pleasure in the experience?
Some people struggle to answer this. Their first thought might be a mental archaeological dig to retrieve the title of a book read last summer. Their second thought may arrive, hand in hand with regret or frustration, that “if only I had more time”. Some people are able to rattle off a list that causes others to imagine just how many piles of books must litter the speaker’s home, for surely one person reading that much can’t fit them all.
These sorts of thoughts flew on our words as we discussed reading for pleasure in our most recent Professional Learning Conversation. Originally conceived of as PLBs or Professional Learning Breakfasts, we decided to this time run two sessions to try and include as many busy people as possible.
Although we had prepared quite a few prompting questions, ideas and frameworks with which to provoke discussion, it was rarely needed when the conversation began to flow. Members of the academic and support staff described the ways in which they best experience reading, the different purposes of reading, the different outcomes of reading.
What was absolutely clear to us is that all participants are passionate about reading. It was also clear that we need to establish a more robust language when talking about reading. Many times we refer to reading as something that we “steal time” to do, or try to squash into time allocated to other activities. We need to change that script in order to see reading flourish. When we start talking about reading as something as valuable as physical exercise, as eating, as many other activities we dedicate our time to, we will see ourselves and our students more easily make space for reading in our very busy days.
As one participant said, “it allows me to be.”
Whether it is through physical books or ebooks or audio books or even reading articles online or listening to podcasts, there are myriad ways in which we can unlock the door to greater reading experiences.
A challenge to you, dear reader, is to make 15 minutes in your day for reading. Do it before you go to sleep. Do it on the train. Do it in your office. Wherever you can, whenever you can. Read, and be.