By: Mr. Lu
Daniella jumped up in front of the class, and started to dance wildly.
She wasn’t dancing alone for long. The Arts Council-sponsored Just Dance event drew an enthusiastic, writhing, and jocular mass of dancers. I could not quite relate to the music, and The dancing? Even less so. Yet, the camaraderie and supportive bonding was altogether familiar, plain echoes of a team after a game, or of performers after a play or concert.
And it made me think about reading.
Earlier this year, Sam had recommended Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants to me, and Zoey had loaned me her copy of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. The former, although fictional, offered fascinating glimpses of the thoughts of First World War participants while the latter was a neatly told grown-up Harry Potter-esque tale featuring a story within a story. When I discussed the books with them, it reflected the familiar “we-re-in-this-together” commonality the dancers had shared. Sam and Zoey’s vocal opinions and perspectives were certainly stronger than those in the statistics or programming classes I taught them.
“I don’t read,” a student told me a short while ago. “Unless I have to.” The student told me how his parents had encouraged him to read at a young age, but aside from a few Diary of a Wimpy Kid books or car magazines, reading never resonated with him. It’s understandable, not all activities mesh with who we are, like how the dancing in my room was alien to me. But it left me sadder hearing it just the same.
Reading feels different than just another hobby or interest. Fictional or not, there are threads and motivations and philosophies that reach out to entice readers to connect with each other on a different scale and level. Sports, arts, and service are wonderful, but sometimes require specific skill sets not available to all. The chore of reading can be daunting for some, but I think can be overcome with the right material, the right discussions, and the right purpose. The great payoff, the unspoken connection between you and me, makes the effort all worthwhile.
I want to be involved in a school book club. No, not another lunch meeting, nor the kind of thing you list in the DAs or throw on your résumé. I mean an informal one book, one school thing. We all read the same book. We talk about it a bit here and there when we see each other in the hall, or in the cafeteria, or during recess. Nothing comes out of it in the end. No meetings. No big goals are reached. Nothing prominently displayed in the Howl. But it’s like we’re dancing. The talk is good, the mood is sublime, and the people are better.
I’m looking for dance partners. Come on by, and we can talk about one book, one WPGA.