While I stare longingly at a row of possible purchases in a book shop, knowing I have the means to buy a book but confused about which good to repose those means towards.. a work colleague asks me , “Do you really read all the books you buy ?”
I was astounded both by the question and by what it means to defend the position of a ‘reader’. Clearly in my thoughts and actions I do not come across at least to this colleague as a reader, but I did come across as a compulsive book shopper. This led my thoughts to a possible community of people, who do indeed buy books as things / as artefacts to be owned and not necessarily to be read. I want to learn more about this act of buying/borrowing a book and then resisting reading it. What it might demonstrate is the posturing of a reader, that in itself a good image builder? A wannabe reader who does not yet have the fire or skills burning strong enough to read a book, but who does not shy from beginning the act of reading, by procuring a book ?
In our work with diverse children who are being drawn to books, is the act of borrowing a book a sufficient indication of an emergent reader? When and how does one begin to tip the scale closer to the act of reading ?
This colleague asked me yet another question to my indignant response of “of course, I read!”. He said, “ Do you read everything? Or do you just go over the pages?” As I reflect on these rather strange but truth revealing questions, I am drawn to the nature of reading itself. Can going over text (perhaps the act of skimming texts) be considered reading? Would a reader ever consider skimming, scanning, browsing as reading? Or are these the hall mark traits of emergent readers? Do some of us go over texts briefly and then think that we know the book or have read it? Perhaps yes, because I cannot imagine where else these questions can have birthed, but in the act of experience.
I have been disquieted over these questions of reading and justifying reading and also drawn to the larger question of how does one recognize a reader ?
In our work, I know with a fair degree of certainty that we have awakened and revealed a world of books to children, but are we growing readers in quite the same way and what are the necessary steps and conditions that we must encourage to make this happen? I will keep seeking these answers, as I must keep fielding questions about reading .