Books have always been my first love. Since Mrs. Justice’s 5th grade class, when we were allowed to check out any book we wanted from the library AND have reading time in class, I was hooked. Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Laura Ingalls were all my friends that year. During high school I devoured historical fiction, Danielle Steel and more than a few Harlequin romances. I found ways to carve out time during college to read biographies and true crime stories. Even now, I am always sharing my latest read with students, colleagues and friends. No matter who I talk with about books, they always ask the same question, “How in the world do you find time to read?” The short answer, is I just make the time. The much longer answer is it takes work and purposeful planning to feed my reading habit.
Like many teachers, I read most during the summer, and with the end of summer vacation, like many teachers I find my opportunity to read for pleasure is limited. Everyone has started school, evenings are full of homework, lesson plans and grading papers. Weekends are filled with running errands, doing laundry, going to football games. For years, I found very little time to read. I’d read all summer, but once school started, the only thing I read were student papers. And I missed it. I missed reading. I missed escaping into another historical era, I missed trying to solve the mystery. I missed inspiration from educators. I missed the escape and time to refresh my brain that reading offered. About 10 years ago, I realized I had not read even ONE book the entire school year. How can a teacher, someone who loves learning and reading go NINE months without opening a book? This revelation led to a real change in my reading habits during the school year. I got serious about finding time to read for myself.
First, I purchased an e-reader. My first was a Nook from Barnes and Noble. I love that I could take multiple books with me everywhere with little to no effort. A big plus was the wealth of FREE books you can download. While I have since upgraded to the Nook and Kindle apps on my Ipad Mini, having access to ebooks in my purse or bag at all times, increases the amount of time I can read. Having access to multiple books at once also increases reading time by allowing me to switch books when I don’t particularly like one or am in the mood for Joshilyn Jackson instead of James Patterson. My husband will tell you the best feature of an e-reader is the ability for me to adjust the brightness so I don’t keep him awake anymore!
Secondly, I began listening to audio books. At first, it was books on tape/CD from the library. I know I am showing my age here! I now listen to them via the Audible app on my Ipad. The best part of using Audible is I can listen to audiobooks in my car. With family in Kentucky and children on travel lacrosse teams, car trips go so much faster when I have a book to listen to. Driving my kids to practices, running errands and driving to downtown Atlanta, become much less tedious when you can listen to a book. A bonus is I’ve found that I listen to different genres of books, ones I normally wouldn’t read. I like to listen to fast paced books, so mysteries are high on my audiobook wish list. I’ve discovered Stuart Woods and Greg Isles via my audiobook obsession.
Thirdly, I got serious about my book club. My book club has been together for a really long time, but we got lazy and it became more social than literary. About 6 years ago, we made a strong commitment to reading the book and having good discussions. One way we did this was by being purposeful in our selection of books. In our yearly book selections, we always include a memoir, mystery, a bestseller and a classic. This increases variety and makes us more likely to read all the books. We are also committed to meeting some of our favorite authors. It was with my book club girls that I began to attend author talks on a regular basis.
But, my real secret is I have a variety of books going on at once. I used to be a one-book-at- a -time kinda gal, but I now find that so limiting. Now, I always have an ebook, an audiobook, a book club book and a professional development books in progress. For example, on my Kindle app right now I am reading Ready Player One by Earnest Cline. The audiobook I am listening to is The Bone Tree by Greg Isles. Our book club selection from October is The Hand Maid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which I’m determined to finish it before I watch the Hulu series. My current professional development book is Rebooting Social Studies by Greg Milo. Did you miss him on #worldgeochat on Tuesday 9/19? Catch the transcript here.
So, really the answer to “How in the world do you find time to read?” is — I truly work to make the time. I use every spare minute I have to squeeze in a little reading time. It saves my sanity and refreshes me so I can be a better wife, mom and teacher. Books also build relationships. More often than not, I have a book on my desk at work. That book has sparked many conversations with students, always ending with the addition of several more titles to my never-ending “books I want to read” list. Many former students I talk with on a regular basis are students I shared books and recommendations with years and years ago. My daughter and I ride to and from school together everyday and most of our conversations are either about musicals (Be More Chill is our current favorite) or books. I will be forever grateful for these shared moments with her. My husband is not a reader, but we share an Audible account and we are always talking about the books we listen to.
Why all this talk about books and reading? Next week, September 24 -30, is Banned Book Week. The #worldgeochat crew are sharing our favorite banned books over on the National Geographic Education Blog next week. We hope you will check them out and hopefully read a banned book or two. If you do, please share with me, so I can add your favorite books to my ever growing, never-ending “to be read” list.