Monday, July 23, 2007


Strange as it sounds, I would like my students to learn how to “eat” a book — meaning thoroughly take the book in, consume it, and digest it. This is different from the way many of us often read — skimming through the pages, dashing from one chapter to the next, and then racing on to the next book. This is not eating a book, but only tasting it. Instead of truly consuming books, we often merely nibble, sip, and sample as we rush along. I want my students to read in a different way. I want them to learn to sit down at the table of a great book, settle themselves in, and enjoy a complete and nutritious meal. Reading a book by Dickens or Willa Cather or Toni Morrison is like having a meal at the home of a distinguished person. We wouldn’t rush through that meal, and we shouldn’t rush through a classic work of literature. This year I want my students to slow down (not an easy task for most of them), read each word thoughtfully, ponder the sentences and paragraphs, and slowly digest the meaning and beauty of the writing. Eating quickly can cause discomfort, and so can reading quickly. At the very least, reading hastily will cause my students to miss the most nutritious parts of the “meal”. They may close the book at the end and leave the real nutrition inside. I don’t want that to happen this year.

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