Monday, February 8, 2010

About Reader's Workshop: Feeding the Book Habit

Some of the discussion on Twitter this weekend has been about our own personal reading habits, mainly that a lot of us are raging book addicts (or book buying addicts). This of course leads to other questions like Patrick A. Allen wondering what you do when you don't think you have that book at home, when really you've got three of them and Reading Countess wondering how you organise your to be read book stashes (the last picture is mine. My husband is open to the idea of a dedicted bookshelf though).

Which made me ponder on the idea of being addicted to books and reading. I'll admit it, I'm a full-blown addict. I always buy hand bags big enough to stick a book in (and I always have a book on me). I have stacks and stacks of books towering in lopsided piles around me. I give out books at school like students won't be able to live without them. I cannot walk by a book shop without going inside. And then there's the smell . . . (a real life friend and I decided that when e-readers come with individual smells for different books, we're doomed).

The Corrections: A NovelBut is it wrong to have a book habit? Is it wrong to read with a torch (flashlight) under the covers? Or to read when you walk (I finished Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections on my half hour walks to the bakery I used to work at)? The stereotype of an avid book reader as someone who's a little bit strange still reigns, at least in my experience.

Sure, a book/reading habit could get a little dangerous if you spend the money for bills on your books, or if you insist on reading your book when you cross that busy street. But in my experience, the people who read books, who talk about books, who have their own pile of books to be read, are the most valuable to have around. You never run out of things to say if you've got a good book to discuss.

And in a time when we celebrate the anti-intellectual, when the complex acts of learning and understanding and teaching get boiled down to a few numbers and colours on a website, it's important to teach children that it's okay to be a little strange, and it's okay to feed the reading habit.

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readingcountess said...

I, too, love the smell of a bookstore. I can spend hours upon hours in one. But I wonder: what will happen to our beloved bookstores with the advent of mega stores (Barnes and Noble/Amazon) and e-readers?

A Reader's Community said...

The question of independent book stores is an interesting one here in Qld. When the first Borders opened in our city, I think one of them closed down, but the others (2 specialised, 1 not) are still doing really well. We don't really have a lot of independent stores - more smaller chains like QBD and Dymocks. Because you have to travel to the city or to a massive shopping mall to visit Borders, it makes it a lot easier to just shop at the local chain.

E-readers are a different story. Book sales will rely more on recommendations and promotions and less on falling across something that just looks good. It would have been nice to have my high school text books on one though!

Unknown said...

As someone who had to feed your book addiction, I have to suggest the importance of libraries in this.Yes we bought books and loved them and reread them but for someone with an up to thirty-two book a week addiction the only solution was a library or two. The school library is a great source but only if they are well funded and kept up to date. Yes we cheated here when I covered the books in plastic and they were sent back to school slightly used ie they had been read once.
Then there are the local municipal libraries which are often overlooked. Do you realise a lot of these get their funding based on how many books are borrowed? This is where the book addict is greatly appreciated.
Lastly the place that can help the students in families that are struggling to feed this appetite is the charity book sales. Yes some are really big. Here in Queensland, Lifeline holds them twice a year. Have you introduced these to your students or would we be creating a pure addict (think of all the smells of those books ). But local libraries also get rid of books to make room for new ones although I hate this as some good resource books get lost in this process it is a useful place to gain new (slightly read books)
Yes feed the book addict but sometimes do realise you can make a monster.... look what happened to you (grin)

A Reader's Community said...

It's funny how our school library has become a really unwelcoming place full of rules and fines and dirty looks if you dare ask to extend a book - the kids prefer the relaxed feel of the classroom library.

The last time I went into the local library it was also a disappointment, though that might have changed with the council mergers. Unfortunately, there's still not a lot of understanding about good middle grade fiction in Australian book stores/libraries - they tend to skip from books for 10 yr old to books for 14 yr olds . . .

I have, however, introduced them to the book fest :) One of the kids wrote their personal narrative on their visit today. I have to see if he mentioned the smells. A few of them are also good rereaders, especially with series, which makes it easier on their parents.

A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

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